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Title: Preliminary Report of the Commission Appointed by the University of Pennsylvania to Investigate Modern Spiritualism - In Accordance with the Request of the Late Henry Seybert
Author: Seybert Commission, The
Language: English
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1887, 1920


Now, at the present time, when the attention of the public is turning
towards questions of Psychology and Psychiatry, it is most appropriate
that a volume such as the present _Report_ be again placed in the hands
of the public. While it cannot be said that the conclusions reached by
the Seybert Commission were final, yet material for future investigation
was furnished and facts so clearly stated that the reader might form his
own conclusions. The purpose and intended scope of the Commission are
plainly set forth in the Preliminary sections, and therefore need not be
entered upon here.

Of the members composing that Commission but one is now surviving, Dr.
Calvin B. Knerr, who contributed an interesting report on the
slate-writing medium, Mrs. Patterson. The sections by the
Acting-Chairman, Dr. Horace Howard Furness, on Mediumistic Development,
Sealed Letters, and Materialization were the occasion of acrimonious and
violent attack on the whole work of the Commission by those periodicals
devoted to spiritualism and its propaganda. Age cannot wither the charm
of the good humoured satire with which the Acting-Chairman treated these
subjects; and it was largely the spirit in which they were thus
approached that inspired the intense hostility on the part of the
spiritual mediums and their many followers.

It has been epigrammatically said that, Superstition is, in many cases,
the cloak that keeps a man's religion from dying of cold; possibly the
same may be said of Spiritualism and Psychology.


February, 1920.



The Seybert Commission for Investigating Modern Spiritualism.

_To the Trustees of The University of Pennsylvania:_

'The Seybert Commission for Investigating Modern Spiritualism'
respectfully present the following Preliminary Report, and request that
the Commission be continued, on the following grounds:

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. They
are conscious that your honorable body look to them for a due
performance of their task, and the only assurance which they can offer
of their earnestness and zeal is in thus presenting to you, from time to
time, such fragmentary Reports as the following, whereby they trust that
successive steps in their progress may be marked. It is no small matter
to be able to record any progress in a subject of so wide and deep an
interest as the present. It is not too much to say that the farther our
investigations extend the more imperative appears the demand for these
investigations. The belief in so-called Spiritualism is certainly not
decreasing. It has from the first assumed a religious tone, and now
claims to be ranked among the denominational Faiths of the day.

From the outset your Commission have been deeply impressed with the
seriousness of their undertaking, and have fully recognized that men
eminent in intelligence and attainments yield to Spiritualism an entire
credence, and who can fail to stand aside in tender reverence when
crushed and bleeding hearts are seen to seek it for consolation and for
hope? They beg that nothing which they may say may be interpreted as
indicating indifference or levity. Wherever fraud in Spiritualism be
found, that it is, and not whatever of truth there may be therein, which
is denounced, and all Spiritualists who love the truth will join with us
in condemnation of it.

The admission of evidence concerning the so-called Spiritual
manifestations has been duly weighed. There is apparent force in the
argument that our national histories are founded, accepted and trusted
on evidence by no means as direct as that by which, it is claimed, the
proofs of Spiritual miracles are accompanied. But it must be remembered
that the facts of profane history are vouched for by evidence which is
in accord with our present experience; they are in harmony with all that
is now going on in the light of day (that history repeats itself has
grown into a commonplace), and we are justified in accepting them on
testimony, however indirect, which is nevertheless at one with the
ordinary course of events. But the phenomena of Spiritualism have no
such support; they are commonly regarded as in contravention of the
ordinary experience of mankind (in that they are abnormal and
extraordinary lies their very attractiveness to many people), and no
indirect testimony concerning them can be admitted without the most
thorough, the most searching scrutiny. We doubt if any thoughtful
Spiritualist could be found to maintain that we should unquestioningly
accept all the so-called 'facts' with which their annals teem. To sift
the evidence of merely half a dozen would require incalculable labor.
Wherefore we decided that, as we shall be held responsible for our
conclusions, we must form those conclusions solely on our own
observations; without at all imputing untrustworthiness to the testimony
of others we can really vouch only for facts which we have ourselves

The late Mr. Henry Seybert during his lifetime was known as an
enthusiastic believer in Modern Spiritualism, and shortly before his
death presented to The University of Pennsylvania a sum of money
sufficient to found a chair of Philosophy, and to the gift added a
condition that the University should appoint a Commission to investigate
'all systems of Morals, Religion, or Philosophy which assume to
represent the Truth, and particularly of Modern Spiritualism.'

A Commission was accordingly appointed, composed as follows: Dr. William
Pepper, Dr. Joseph Leidy, Dr. George A. Koenig, Professor Robert Ellis
Thompson, Professor George S. Fullerton and Dr. Horace Howard Furness;
to whom were afterwards added Mr. Coleman Sellers, Dr. James W. White,
Dr. Calvin B. Knerr and Dr. S. Weir Mitchell. Of this Commission Dr.
Pepper, as Provost of The University, was, _ex-officio_, Chairman, Dr.
Furness, Acting Chairman, and Professor Fullerton, Secretary.

As a befitting preliminary, at one of our earliest meetings each member
in turn expressed his entire freedom from all prejudices against the
subject to be investigated, and his readiness to accept any conclusion
warranted by facts; one of our number, the Acting Chairman, so far from
being unprejudiced confessed to a leaning in favor of the substantial
truth of Spiritualism.

We deemed ourselves fortunate at the outset in having as a counselor
the late Mr. Thos. R. Hazard, a personal friend of Mr. Seybert, and
widely known throughout the land as an uncompromising Spiritualist.

By the advice of Mr. Hazard we addressed ourselves first to the
investigation of Independent Slate Writing, and through his aid a séance
for this purpose was arranged with a noted Medium, Mrs. S.E. Patterson.

This mode of manifesting Spiritualistic power, as far as it has come
under our observation, is, concisely stated, the writing on the
concealed surface of a slate which is in contact with a Medium. In the
present instance, between two slates fastened together by a hinge on one
side and a screw on the other, there was placed a small fragment of
slate pencil; when this fragment is bitten off by the Medium, it
receives, so Mr. Hazard assured us, additional Spiritualistic power. As
soon as a Spirit has finished writing its communication with the pencil
on the inner surface of the slates, the completion of the task is made
known by the appearance of the slate pencil on the outside, upon the
slates. The slates are always held in concealment under the table, and
never has this remarkable passage of the pencil through the solid
substance of the slate been witnessed by any one, not even by the Medium
herself, in all the years during which this wonderful phenomenon has
been a matter of daily, almost hourly, experience.

Our first séance was held in the evening at the Medium's own home. The
slates were screwed together with the bit of slate pencil enclosed, and
held by the Medium between her open palms, in her lap, under the table.
After waiting an hour and a half without the least response on the
slates from the Spirits, the attempt was abandoned for that evening much
to the disappointment, not only of us all, but to the chagrin of Mr.
Hazard, who could not understand 'what the deuce was in it, seeing that
the Medium was one of the very best in the world, and on the preceding
evening, when he was all alone with her, the messages from the spirit of
Henry Seybert came thick and fast.'

No better success attended our second séance with this Medium, although
we waited patiently an hour and twenty minutes, while the slates were in
the Medium's lap.

By the advice of the Medium, in order to eliminate any possible
antagonism, we divided our numbers, and only one or two of us at a time
sat with her. On one occasion writing did appear on the slates, after
the slates had been held by both hands of the Medium for a long time in
concealment under the table, but to neither of the two sitters did the
screw appear to be by any means as tightly fastened after the writing as
before; nor did the writing of two or three illegible words seem beyond
the resources of very humble legerdemain; in fact, no legerdemain was
needed, after a surreptitious loosening of the screw which, considering
the state of the frame of the slate, could have been readily effected.

From some cause or other the atmosphere of Philadelphia is not favorable
to this mode of Spiritual manifestation. With the exception of the
Medium just alluded to, not a single Professional Independent Slate
Writing Medium was known to us at that time in this city, nor is there
one resident here even at this present writing, as far as we know.

We were, therefore, obliged to send for one to New York. With this
Medium, Dr. Henry Slade, we had a number of sittings, and, however
wonderful may have been the manifestations of his Mediumship in the
past, or elsewhere, we were forced to the conclusion that the character
of those which passed under our observation was fraudulent throughout.
There was really no need of any elaborate method of investigation; close
observation was all that was required.

At the risk of appearing inconsequent by mentioning that first which in
point of time came last, we must premise that in our investigations
with this Medium we early discovered the character of the writing to be
twofold, and the difference between the two styles to be striking. In
one case the communication written on the slate by the Spirits was
general in its tone, legible in its chirography, and usually covered
much of the surface of the slate, punctuation being attended to, the
_i's_ dotted, and the _t's_ crossed. In the second, when the
communication was in answer to a question addressed to a Spirit the
writing was clumsy, rude, scarcely legible, abrupt in terms, and
sometimes very vague in substance. In short, one bore the marks of
deliberation and the other of haste. This difference we found to be due
to the different conditions under which the communications were written.
The long messages are prepared by the Medium before the séance. The
short ones, answers to questions asked during the séance, are written
under the table with what skill practice can confer.

With this knowledge, it is clear that the investigator has to deal with
a simple question of legerdemain. The slate, with its message already
written, must in some way be substituted for one which the sitter knows
to be clean. The short answers must be written under trying
circumstances, out of sight, under the table, with all motions of the
arm or hand concealed. It is useless to attempt to limit the methods
whereby these two objects may be attained. All that we can do is to
describe the processes which we distinctly saw this Medium adopt.

In its simplest form (and one which any person can try with astonishing
results upon an artless, unsuspicious sitter), a slate, on which, before
the sitter's visit, a message has been written, is lying face downward
on the table when the séance begins. There are other slates on an
adjoining table within easy reach of the Medium. In order that the
Medium may be brought into Spiritual relationship with the sitters,
contact with the Medium is necessary, and the sitters are therefore
requested to place their hands, palms downward, in the middle of the
table; on these hands the Medium places his own and the séance begins.
Before long, the presence of Spiritual power becomes manifest by raps on
the table, or by vibratory movements of the table, more or less violent,
and by spasmodic jerkings or twitching of the Medium's arms or body.
When sufficient Spiritual power has been generated, the Medium takes up
the slate, and, still controlling with his left hand the hands of his
sitters, places on it a minute fragment of slate pencil. No offer is
made to show both sides (the prepared message is on the hidden side),
the side in full view is perfectly clean, and it is on that side that
the Spirits are to write with the slate pencil; there is no need of
showing the other side. With his right hand the Medium holds the slate
under the edge of the table, barely concealing it thereunder, and
drawing it forth every few seconds to see if any writing has appeared.
After waiting in vain for five or ten minutes, the Medium's patience
becomes exhausted, and he reaches for another slate from the table close
behind him, and, ostentatiously washing both sides of it, lays it on the
table in front of him (still controlling with his left hand the hands of
his sitters), and removes the pencil from the first slate to the second,
and on top of the second so places the first slate that the prepared
message is underneath, on the inside and next to the other slate. The
trick is done. All that now remains for the Medium to do is to hold the
two slates under the table for awhile, or rest them on the shoulder
close to the ear of the sitter on the Medium's right, and, by scratching
with the finger nail on the frame of the slate, to imitate the writing
by the Spirits with the enclosed pencil. When there are two or more
sitters it is only the one on the right of the Medium who is privileged
to hear the writing. To apply the slate to the ear of any other would
disclose the way in which the sound of the writing is counterfeited. To
him, therefore, who sits on the Medium's left, so that the Medium's
hand, while holding the slates on the shoulder of the sitter on the
right, is sharply outlined against the light, the motions of the
Medium's fingers while the sound of writing is imitated by him may be
distinctly seen.

By such elementary tricks of legerdemain as these are guileless, honest
folk deceived.

Dr. Slade prefers to have only two sitters at a time, one on his right
and one opposite. The fourth side of the table he prefers to have
unoccupied; his manipulations of the slate can be from that side more
readily observed; moreover, strange Spiritual antics may be there
manifested, such as upsetting chairs which happen to be there, making
slates appear above the edge of the table, etc. These manifestations are
executed by the Medium's foot, which, on one occasion, was distinctly
seen before it had time to get back into its slipper by one of our
number, who stooped very quickly to pick up a slate which had
accidentally fallen to the floor while the Spirits were trying to put it
into the lap of one of the sitters.

At the first two séances an ordinary wooden table was used belonging to
the hotel where Dr. Slade lodged. At the third séance a similar but
larger table was used, somewhat the worse for wear, and the joints of
its leaves were far from fitting close. Every crack, however, and every
chink had been carefully filled up with paper to prevent, so the Medium
said, 'the electricity from flowing through.'

The method of producing the long message which opened the séance has
been described above. Whenever we received other long messages, written
with some care and more or less filling the side of the slate, the
agency employed was adroit substitution, generally effected when the
Medium supposed that the attention of his sitters was engrossed with an
answer just received to a question addressed to the Spirits. Prepared
slates resting against the leg of the table behind him were substituted
for those which but a moment before he had ostentatiously washed on
both sides and laid on the table in front of him. The handwriting of
these long messages bore an unmistakable similarity to the Medium's own.

When a question is written on the slate by a sitter, equal dexterity to
that used in substituting the prepared slate, or even greater, is
demanded of the Medium, in reading the question and in writing the

The question is written by the sitter out of sight of the Medium, to
whom the slate, face downward, is handed over and a piece of pencil
placed on it.

The task now before the Medium is first to secure the fragment of pencil
and to hold it while the slate is surreptitiously turned over and the
question read, then the slate is turned back again and the answer

Every step in the process we have distinctly seen. In order to seize the
fragment of pencil without awakening suspicion, while holding the slate
under the table, the slate is constantly brought out to see whether or
not the Spirits have written an answer. By this manoeuvre a double end
is attained: First, it creates an atmosphere of expectation, and the
sitters grow accustomed to a good deal of motion in the Medium's arm
that holds the slate; and secondly, by these repeated motions the pencil
(which, having been cut out from a slate pencil enclosed in wood, is
square, and does not roll about awkwardly), is moved by the successive
jerks toward the hand which holds the slate, and is gradually brought up
to within grasping distance. The forefinger is then passed over the
frame of the slate, and it and the thumb seize and hold the pencil, and
under cover of some violent convulsive spasms the slate is turned over
and the question read. At this point it is that the Medium shows his
nerve: it is the critical instant, the only one when his eyes are not
fastened on his visitors. On one occasion, when the question was written
somewhat illegibly in a back hand, with a very light stroke, and close
to the upper edge of the slate, the Medium had to look at it three
several times before he could make it out.

After reading the question, it may be noticed that Dr. Slade winks three
or four times rapidly; this may have been partly to veil from his
visitors the fact that he had been looking intently downward, and partly
through mental abstraction in devising an answer. He evidently breathes
freer when this crisis is past.

Convulsive spasms attend the reversing of the slate, which is then
generally held between his knees; only once did we note that he placed
it _on_ his knees, and once we believed that he supported it by pressing
it against the leg of the table. The answer is written without looking
at the slate, in a coarse, large, sprawling hand, at times scarcely
legible. While writing he keeps his eyes steadily fixed on his visitors,
and generally rests a minute or two after it is finished. Presently the
slate is held near the edge of the table and close up to it, and a
tremulous motion imparted to it suggests that Spiritual power is then at
work and that the writing is in progress.

Dr. Slade performed several little tricks which he imputed to Spiritual
agency, but which were almost puerile in the simplicity of their
legerdemain, and which have been repeated with perfect success by one of
our number; such as tossing a slate pencil on and sometimes over the
table from a slate held apparently under the table, or the playing of an
accordion when held with one hand under the table. This Medium's fingers
are unusually long and strong, and the accordion, being quite small and
with only four bellows folds, can be readily manipulated with but one
hand, and when under the table is held by the keys.

Two compasses, which we placed on the table during one séance, remained
unaffected by Dr. Slade's presence.

At our last séance with him we noticed two slates which were not with
the other slates on the small table behind him, but were on the floor
resting against the leg of that table, and within easy reach of his hand
as he sat at the larger table. As we had previously seen prepared slates
similarly placed we kept a sharp watch on these slates. Unfortunately,
it was too sharp. Dr. Slade caught the look that was directed at them.
That detected glance was sufficient to prevent the Spirits from sending
us the messages which they had so carefully prepared. The slates were
not produced during the séance, but when it was over one of our number
managed to strike them with his foot so as to displace them and reveal
the writing. None of us present that day will be likely to forget the
hurried way in which these slates were seized by the Medium and washed.

We think it worthy to be recorded that, in reply to a question, Dr.
Slade said that Professor Zoellner watched him closely only during the
first three or four sittings, but that afterwards Professor Zoellner let
him do just as he pleased, fully and unreservedly submitting to all the
conditions demanded by the Spirits.

We received from Dr. Slade a written expression of his satisfaction with
our treatment of him, which had been throughout, so he said, entirely
fair and courteous, and of his willingness at any time hereafter to sit
with us again, should we desire it and his engagements permit.

It is a source of regret that, in our investigations, we have received
no aid from unprofessional Mediums; and in dealing with professional
Mediums we have been continually distracted by the conflicting estimates
in which these Mediums are held among the Spiritualists themselves.
There are very, very few professional Mediums, as far as our experience
goes, who are accepted by all Spiritualists as free from the reproach of
fraud. Indeed one Medium with whom, by the advice of Mr. Hazard, we had
a séance, and for whom Mr. Hazard vouched as one of the best of his
class, we have seen denounced as a 'liar and a thief.' In the
earnestness of our zeal we advertised in the local secular press, and in
the leading Spiritualist Journals both East and West, for Independent
Slate Writing Mediums, and to this widespread appeal there came but
three replies, and of these, two were so remote that the promise of
performance held out by the respondents did not, in our opinion, justify
so large an outlay of money for traveling expenses as a journey across
the Continent involved. This noteworthy reluctance on the part of
Mediums to come before us cannot be due to any harsh or antagonistic
treatment received at our hands by any Medium. All Mediums have been
treated by us with uniform courtesy, and with every endeavor to
acquiesce in the 'conditions' imposed or suggested by the Spirits. And
yet a well-known Medium in New York, Mrs. Thayer, to whom the Acting
Chairman was unknown, and with whom he was at the time having a séance,
vehemently asserted that no member of the 'Seybert Commission' should
ever have a séance with her, that the whole Commission, one and all,
were 'old scoundrels and should never darken her doors,' etc., etc., and
confessed that the foundation of her belief was the warning (sent to her
by an eminent Medium whose séances the Commission had attended) that she
should have nothing to do with 'the Seybert men, that they would do her
no good.' Even in instances where Mediums have expressed their
willingness to appear before us, we have been embarrassed by demands for
compensation which we could not but deem extortionate and, practically,
prohibitory; as in the case of Mr. Keeler, the Spiritual Photographer,
whose terms will be found in the Appendix, and in that of Dr. Henry
Rogers, whose terms were five hundred dollars if he should be successful
before us, and the half of that sum if he failed.

Although the number of Mediums whose manifestations we have been able to
examine has been thus restricted, we feel ourselves justified in giving
as a result of our examination of Independent Slate Writing that,
whether the agency be Spiritual or Material, its mode of manifestation
almost wholly precludes any satisfactory investigation.

There are not wanting eminent expounders of the Spiritualistic Faith who
assert that this is as it should be, and that if in the attempt to apply
the laws of the material world to Spiritual manifestations we are
baffled, the fault lies in us, and not in the Mediums. If this be so, we
must accept our fate and enlarge the adage that 'poets are born, not
made,' and include Spiritualists.

Yet, as a rule, Mediums assert that they invite investigation. Our
experience has been, as we have just said, that as soon as an
investigation, worthy of the name, begins, all manifestations of
Spiritualist power cease.

The bare statement of the conditions whereunder the Mediums maintain
that the manifestations of Independent Slate Writing are alone possible,
involves the extreme difficulty, we might almost say the impossibility,
of any genuine or rational investigation. Even the very spirit of
investigation, or of incredulity, seems to exercise a chilling effect
and prevents a successful manifestation. Indeed Mr. Hazard once told us
that the true spirit in which to approach the study of Spiritualism is
'an entire willingness to be deceived.' In Independent Slate Writing, in
our experience, there is a period, of longer or shorter duration, when
the slate is concealed. During this period the investigator's eye must
not watch it. When the slate is held under the table, knees and feet
and clothing exert no deleterious effect, but the gaze of a human eye is
fatal to all Spiritual manifestation; although to one of our number, on
three occasions, a pocket mirror, carefully adjusted, unknown to the
Medium, gave back the reflection of fingers, which were clearly not
Spiritual, opening the slates and writing the answer.

There is really no step in the bare process of producing this writing,
as we have observed it, which might not be accomplished by trickery or
by legerdemain. Of course, therefore, we were sincerely anxious to
disprove in these experiments the presence of those discreditable
elements, not only for the credit of human nature, but for the sake of
the great scientific interest involved. We are perfectly ready to accept
any fact of Spiritual power; and so far from flinching from an open
avowal of our belief in this revelation of a novel force in Nature, we
would welcome it. But no one, not a Spiritualist, we should suppose, can
demand of us that we should accept profound mysteries with our eyes
tight shut, and our hands fast closed, and with every avenue to our
reasoning faculties insurmountably barred. Yet this is precisely what is
demanded of us by Mediums in regard to Independent Slate Writing. We
must sign a dispensation to forego the exercise of common sense, and
accept as 'fact' what they choose so to term. Few assertions by departed
Spirits are more hacknied than, 'This is a great truth,' and yet in an
honest endeavor to prove that it is a 'great truth;' and not a great
lie, the sincere and earnest seeker is at every turn baffled and

To eliminate from our investigations every element of distrust, or
hostility, or suspicion, or chilling antagonism, we entrusted to Mr.
Hazard's friend, Mrs. Patterson, vouched for by him as one of the very
best Mediums in the country, two carefully closed and sealed slates,
enclosing, of course, the required piece of slate-pencil, with the
earnest entreaty that the Spirits should write therein even if it were
but the merest mark, sign, or scratch, therewith we would be content,
and be ready to accept Independent Slate Writing with its train of
consequences. The Medium was fully impressed with the importance of the
trial, and with the fame which would thereby accrue from such a
wholesale conversion as that of the united Seybert Commission.

Every Medium, it would appear, is under the special tutelage of a
departed Spirit; this Spirit is termed the 'Medium's control.' In the
present case, when the slates were delivered to Mrs. Patterson, her
'control,' one 'Thomas Lister,' at once promised that Spirit hands
should shortly write within the sealed-up space. But no writing came
that day nor the next, nor the next, although the Medium protested that
every attention should be bestowed on the refractory slates. In vain was
the Medium again and again adjured to put forth every power. At the end
of six months the slates were received again, without any writing,
according to the confession of the Medium.

So anxious, however, was our Acting Chairman that the experiment should
prove successful, that, undeterred by this failure, he carefully sealed
up a second slate, and placed it in the hands of the same Medium, with
renewed adjurations to put forth all her Spiritualistic strength. At the
end of a fortnight or more, after redoubled exertions of Mediumistic
power, to which was added the combined Spiritualistic power of the
Medium's entire family circle, the exciting announcement was made to us
that the fragment of slate pencil within the slates could no longer be
heard to rattle, and that presumably the Spirits had written a message
for us.

Each Medium, generally, has some peculiar mode of manifesting
Spiritualistic power; it is a peculiarity of this Medium, as has been
before stated, that the completion of the Spirit message within the
slates is indicated not by raps, as is frequently the case with other
Mediums, but by the sudden and marvelous appearance on the top of the
slate of the little fragment of pencil, which had been securely fastened
up within. The fact, therefore, that the pencil was no longer inside of
our slates was presumptive evidence that the Medium's control had been
true to his word, and had written us a message. The slates were received
from the Medium most carefully, and a meeting of the Commission hastily
called. It is scarcely worth while to enter here at length on the
details of that session, of the careful scrutiny to which the slates
were subjected, of the unmutilated seals, of the untouched screws, etc.,
etc.; but it is worth while to record the feeling of grave
responsibility, almost akin to solemnity, with which we all approached
what, for aught we knew, might prove to be a revelation of a power as
wonderful as any with which, as yet, we had ever been brought into
acquaintance. Just before we opened the slates it was noticed that at
one corner, owing to the flexibility of the wooden frames, it was quite
possible to stretch the slates far enough apart to permit the insertion
of the blade of a knife, and an examination of the edges at this point
revealed only too plainly discolored abrasions. When the slates were
finally opened, not a stroke of writing nor a scratch was to be found,
but at the suspected corner were the discolored marks, visible to this
day, of the knife which had been inserted to extract the pencil, which,
in its enforced outward passage, had left behind, in its scratches on
the wood, a tell-tale trail of dust which the microscope revealed to be
of the same substance as the pencil. The Spirits had not taken even the
precaution to wipe the broad knife clean from rust or dirt. The slates
are preserved in our sad museum of specimens of misdirected ingenuity.

We are continually confronted with statements wherein the narrator
claims a Spiritual solution as the only possible one of the enigma
involved in the phenomena, as he observed them.

To all such statements we have, first, the plain and ready answer, that
we do not attempt to pass judgment on manifestations which we ourselves
have not observed. All that we can vouch for is the result of our own
observation. More cannot be demanded of us.

Secondly, experience has shown us that with every possible desire on the
part of Spiritualists to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
but the truth, concerning marvelous phenomena, it is extremely difficult
to do so. Be it distinctly understood that we do not for an instant
impute wilful perversion of the truth. All that we mean is that, for two
reasons, it is likely that the marvels of Spiritualism will be, by
believers in them, incorrectly and insufficiently reported.

The first reason is to be found in the mental condition of the observer;
if he be excited or deeply moved his account cannot but be affected, and
essential details will surely be distorted.

For a second reason, note how hard it is to give a truthful account of
any common, everyday occurrence. The difficulty is increased a
hundred-fold, when what we would tell, partakes of the wonderful. Who
can truthfully describe a juggler's trick? Who would hesitate to affirm
that a watch, which never left the eye-sight for an instant, was broken
by the juggler on an anvil; or that a handkerchief was burned before our
eyes? We all know the juggler does not break the watch, and does not
burn the handkerchief. We watched most closely the juggler's right hand,
while the trick was done with his left. The one minute circumstance has
been omitted that would have converted the trick into no-trick. It is
likely to be the same in the accounts of most of the wonderful phenomena
of Spiritualism.

For these two reasons, we laid down for ourselves at the start that in
cases demanding close observation we would endeavor to have as many
members as possible of the Commission present at every séance. In
dealing with phenomena, where all ordinary methods of investigation are
excluded, we perceived clearly that our best resource lay in having the
largest possible number of observers.

In dismissing this subject of Independent Slate Writing, we repeat, what
we think Spiritualists will generally grant, that this phenomenon can be
performed by legerdemain. The burden of proof that it is not so
performed rests with the Mediums. This proof the Mediums will neither
offer themselves, nor permit others to obtain. Investigators, therefore,
are forced to bring to bear their own powers of close observation,
sharpened and educated by experience. Be it remembered that what we have
here stated applies solely to the process whereby the communication is
written on the slate; with the substance of the communication, whether
pertinent answers to questions or dreary platitudes, we are not now
dealing. Whether these answers be ascribed to Spirits, or to what is
termed clairvoyance, they would be none the less true or false if
delivered orally by the Medium; all that we are sure of is that the
writing down of these communications, be their substance what it may, is
performed in a manner so closely resembling fraud as to be
indistinguishable from it. It would be a mere matter of opinion that all
Independent Slate Writing is fraudulent; what is not a matter of opinion
is the conviction, which we have unanimously reached as a Commission, of
its non-spiritual character in every instance that has come before us.

An eminent professional juggler performed, in the presence of three of
our Commission, some Independent Slate Writing far more remarkable than
any which we have witnessed with Mediums. In broad daylight, a slate
perfectly clean on both sides was, with a small fragment of slate
pencil, held under a leaf of a small ordinary table around which we were
seated; the fingers of the juggler's right hand pressed the slate tight
against the underside of the leaf, while the thumb completed the
pressure, and remained in full view while clasping the leaf of the
table. Our eyes never for a fraction of a second lost sight of that
thumb; it never moved; and yet in a few minutes the slate was produced,
covered on both sides with writing. Messages were there, and still are
there, for we preserved the slate, written in French, Spanish, Dutch,
Chinese, Japanese, Gujerati, and ending with 'Ich bin ein Geist, und
liebe mein Lagerbier.' We were utterly baffled. For one of our number
the juggler subsequently repeated the trick and revealed its every

We request your honorable body to note that this Report is preliminary
and that we do not consider our investigations in this department as
finally closed, but hold ourselves ready to continue them whenever
favorable circumstances arise.

To the subject of 'Spirit-rappings' we have devoted some time and
attention, but our investigations have not been sufficiently extensive
to warrant us at present in offering any positive conclusions. The
difficulty attending the investigation of this mode of Spiritualistic
manifestation is increased by the fact, familiar to physiologists, that
sounds of varying intensity may be produced in almost any portion of the
human body by voluntary muscular action. To determine the exact location
of this muscular activity is at times a matter of delicacy.

What we can say, thus far, with assurance is that, in the cases which
have come under our observation, the theory of the purely physiological
origin of the sounds has been sustained by the fact that the Mediums
were invariably, and confessedly, cognizant of the rappings whenever
they occurred, and could at once detect any spurious rappings, however
exact and indistinguishable to all other ears might be the imitation.
For the details of the investigation which guided us to this conclusion
we refer to the Appendix.

There are among Mediums certain Specialists, whose alleged Spiritual
manifestations we have endeavoured to investigate, not always
successfully, as, for instance, in the case of Mr. W.M. Keeler, through
whose Mediumship 'Spiritual Photographs' are produced. The 'conditions'
which this Medium demanded would have made any attempt at investigation
a mere waste of time, and his terms of remuneration were, in addition,
as we have before mentioned, prohibitory and suggestive of unwillingness
to come before the Commission. In these days of 'Composite Photography'
it is worse than childish to claim a Spiritual source for results which
can be obtained at any time by any tyro in the art. Mr. Keeler's letter
will be found in the Appendix.

We were more successful in procuring a séance with Mr. Keeler's brother,
whose Mediumship manifests itself by the materialization of a right hand
behind a low screen, in front of which the Medium sits, with his face
alone visible, his entire person being concealed by black muslin. The
screen is stretched across a corner of a room to about the height of the
back of the Medium's head, as he sits in front of it. The lights are
lowered, and in a few minutes various instruments, musical and
otherwise, which had been previously placed on a small table in the
corner enclosed by the screen, are heard to sound, a drum is beaten, a
guitar is played, etc. The music is interspersed with flashes of hand
darting and waving above the screen to the right of the Medium. The
hand, when shaken, was found to be a right one. As a proof that the hand
is Spiritual and not that of the Medium, the latter requests one of the
visitors at the séance to sit beside him on his right, and also to be
covered to the chin with the same black muslin under which all the
Medium, except his head, is concealed. This visitor's bare left forearm
is grasped by the Medium, as he says, with both his hands, and this
pressure of the Medium's two hands on the visitor's arm is never
relaxed, as the visitor readily testifies. The proof seems, therefore,
conclusive that the hand which plays the instruments behind the screen
is not the Medium's, and hence must be a materialized Spirit. The trick
is simple and highly deceptive, as any one can prove for himself by
requesting a blindfolded friend to bare the left arm to the elbow, then
let the experimenter grasp this bared arm, near the wrist, with the
third and fourth fingers of his left hand, closing them around it
tightly, and as he does so, asking the owner of the arm to note that
this is his left hand, then let the experimenter, without relaxing this
hold, stretch the remaining fingers and thumb up the arm as far as he
can, and while clasping it with his thumb and forefinger, remark that
this second pressure comes from his other hand. The conviction is
complete in the mind of the blindfolded friend that he feels the grasp
of two hands, whereas only the left hand of the experimenter has grasped
his arm, and the right hand is free to beat a drum or play a zither.
After this test, which is patent to all, we can dismiss the theory of a
Spiritual origin of the hand behind Mr. Keeler's screen. To forestall
the discovery by Mr. Keeler's companion of this trick, and to prevent
its detection by simply feeling with his free right hand after the
suppositious hands of the Medium, which are grasping his left forearm,
a second visitor is requested to share the discomfort of the muslin
envelope, and to sit on the right of the first visitor and to hold the
latter's truant right hand with his left hand, while his right is
exposed to view outside the curtain. Again we refer to the Appendix for
the minutes of our meeting.

We had a séance also with Messrs. Rothermel and Powell, of whom the
former is the Medium, the latter, acting mainly as a reservoir of
psychic force, guides and directs the séance. In this case the Medium's
Spiritual manifestations, as well as his material arrangements, are
similar to those of Mr. Keeler, except that instead of having a visitor
whose arm may be grasped, Mr. Rothermel's hands are fastened in his lap
by bands of tape passed around his legs and sewed to his clothes. After
the black curtain had hid the hands from our sight we were not again
allowed to examine them except in the most hurried and superficial way,
but, even in the brief inspection which was permitted, a glance was
sufficient to show that the tape had been tampered with. The close of
the séance was announced by the sound of clipping scissors, and by Mr.
Rothermel's exclamation, while still concealed, that the Spirits were
cutting him loose. We had no means of knowing whether the tape was cut
at the beginning of the séance or not. When the muslin envelope was
removed, Mr. Rothermel's hands were certainly free. The bands were cut,
and we had no difficulty in believing that the hands which were
dexterous enough to play the zither with very remarkable skill, under
such conditions, behind the curtain, were deft enough to sever the

Our séances with Mrs. Maud E. Lord were acknowledged by the Medium
herself to be altogether unsatisfactory. This is much to be regretted.
Mrs. Lord is one of the few professional Mediums whose excellence is
acknowledged by all Spiritualists alike, and who, in her attitude
towards the Commission, displayed every desire to aid a full and
complete investigation into the manifestations peculiar to her
Mediumship, and furthermore, without remuneration.

In conclusion, we beg to express our regret that thus far we have not
been cheered in our investigations by the discovery of a single novel
fact; but, undeterred by this discouragement, we trust with your
permission to continue them with what thoroughness our future
opportunities may allow, and with minds as sincerely and honestly open,
as heretofore, to conviction.

We desire to call especial attention to Professor Fullerton's Report in
the Appendix of his interviews with Professors Fechner, Scheibner and
Weber, the surviving colleagues of Professor Zoellner in his experiments
with Dr. Henry Slade.

And also to an investigation of the power of Mediums to answer the
questions contained in 'Sealed Envelopes.'


_University of Pennsylvania_,
May, 1887.


Soon after the appointment of the Seybert Commission, I as Secretary,
was asked to make a collection of the best representative literature of
Spiritualism, and to prepare for the use of the Commission a sketch of
the rise, progress, present condition, doctrines and alleged phenomena
of this belief, as well as an account of previous investigations,
similar to the one contemplated by ourselves. For a number of months I
busied myself diligently with this work, and finally read my sketch
before the Commission, at a meeting at which Mr. Thomas R. Hazard, the
well-known Spiritualist, was present as our guest. I had at this time
seen scarcely anything of Spiritualism, but was much impressed with what
I had read, and certainly in a fully receptive attitude towards
phenomena supported by so much apparently strong testimony. Mr. Hazard
declared himself quite satisfied with the tone of the paper, saying that
he had come expecting to hear something very different, but that it was
fair and unbiased. I mention these facts to show that my present opinion
on the subject was not assumed at the outset, but has been arrived at
gradually, and is based upon my own observations.

I have been forced to the conclusion that Spiritualism, as far at least
as it has shown itself before me (and I give no opinion upon what has
not fallen within my observation), presents the melancholy spectacle of
gross fraud, perpetrated upon an uncritical portion of the community;
that the testimony of such persons as to what they see is almost
valueless, if they are habitually as inaccurate as they have been at the
séances at which I have been present with them; and that there is an
unwillingness on the part of Mediums to have their powers freely and
thoroughly investigated--a fact which makes any investigation of
Spiritualism difficult and expensive. My opinions are not based
exclusively upon what I have seen and recorded in my work with my
colleagues, but also upon observations made at various times in a
private capacity; and there is but one conclusion to be appended to them
all. I subjoin notes of séances, recorded by myself as Secretary of the
Commission. Their somewhat disjointed form arises from the fact that I
have not thought it desirable to make changes in my notes, except such
as were necessary in taking the Records, which are of value as evidence,
out of their contextual connection with records of business meetings and
matters of no interest to the public. Nothing which could be looked upon
as evidence has been purposely suppressed. I have intentionally left out
a description of several things which we have been unable to use, and
which would have merely swelled our Records; as, for example, the
account of our sealing slates for the experiments with Dr. Slade, he
afterwards having refused to have anything to do with slates sealed by
us. My notes were made during the séances, or as soon as possible after
them. They were arranged and copied in no case later than two days
after. Explanations and additions, which do not belong to the original
Records, but have been inserted later, are put in brackets.

For a justification of the opinion of Spiritualism expressed above, I
refer to the Records which follow.


       *       *       *       *       *

March 13th, 1884.

On Thursday, March 13th, 1884, the Commission met at 508 S. 16th Street,
at 8 P.M., for the examination of Mrs. S.E. Patterson, Spiritualistic

For the first test, a small piece of slate pencil was placed within a
double slate, and the leaves fastened together with a screw, which
passed through one wooden rim into the other. The Spirit-writing upon
the slate should be indicated by the pencil appearing upon the outside
of the slate. The slate was laid upon the Medium's lap for one hour and
a-half without results.

Meanwhile the Medium wrote what purported to be messages from several
Spirits upon slips of paper, the handwriting varying with each message.
One message was signed Elias Hicks, another Lucretia Mott, another
signed H.S. was compared with a message from Mr. Henry Seybert to Mr.
T.R. Hazard the day before. The initials were somewhat different.

The Commission sat in a circle, the Medium at a small table with folding

One communication, signed E.H., declared that the person sitting
opposite Mr. Hazard (Mr. Furness) was endowed with great Mediumistic

The writing failing to appear on the slate it was opened, and Dr. Leidy,
having written upon a slip of paper a question, enclosed it in the
slate, which was again fastened.

After half an hour's waiting, no results being obtained, the Commission
addressed some questions to the Medium and then adjourned.

The Medium described her sensations during the automatic writing as a
constriction at the wrist.

She declared that she had no knowledge of what she wrote, was not
distracted by noises, etc.

(Mr. Furness and Mr. Fullerton, however, noticed that she, when
interrupted, glanced back over what she had previously written before

She could not go into the trance state. Just before adjournment the
Medium laid her hands upon the table and tried to produce "raps," but
did not succeed.

Has been a Spiritualist for nine or ten years, but has always been
possessed of unusual powers. As a child saw visions, etc.

Declares that she is most successful as a Slate Writer.



       *       *       *       *       *

Wednesday, March 19th, 1884.

The Commission met at 508 S. 16th Street, at 8 P.M.

Present: Dr. Leidy, Professor Koenig, Mr. Furness, Mr. Fullerton and Mr.
Hazard. The Medium was Mrs. S.E. Patterson.

Mr. Furness brought two new double slates, which could be fastened by a

The Medium cut a small piece of slate pencil and enclosed it in a double
slate (one of those brought by Mr. Furness), into which was also put a
paper upon which Dr. Leidy had written a question. The slate was then
fastened with a screw.

Dr. Koenig also wrote a question, which was enclosed in the other slate,
the slate being screwed up by Mr. Furness.

The Medium then placed both slates upon her lap, and partially under the
table. A portion of the time the upper slate was between the palms of
her hands, the back of the lower hand resting on the lower slate. Then
one hand was placed upon each slate, the two being placed together.

No results having been obtained after waiting twenty minutes, one of the
new slates was laid aside, and the Medium's old slate, with a piece of
pencil in it, laid upon the remaining new slate in the Medium's lap.

The Medium held from time to time a lead pencil in one hand, but was not
moved to write.

The Medium declared that when writing appears upon the slate in her lap
she feels a shock, but no other sensation.

Two Spirit Photographs were exhibited by the Medium. In one the Spirit
was her own mother. The Spirit in each appeared as a white apparition
behind a person seated in the foreground.

The slates remained in the lap of the Medium one hour and twenty
minutes. No manifestations were produced during the evening.

The Commission adjourned to a room at the Social Art Club for

The above notes of the evening's session were read by the Secretary and

It was resolved to meet again on the evening of Wednesday, March 26th,
for the next session.



       *       *       *       *       *

March 26th, 1884.

The Commission met on Wednesday, March 26th, at 7.30 P.M., at 1117
Callowhill Street.

Present: Dr. Leidy, Mr. Furness, Mr. Fullerton and Mr. T.R. Hazard. The
Medium was Mr. Fred. Briggs.

The Medium gave the following answers to Dr. Leidy's questions:

1. Has been a Medium since seven years of age. Now 22 years old.

2. Before seven years of age could see visions, etc., but did not
communicate with Spirits.

3. Was born in Boston. Lived there when not on journeys.

4. His parents had no such powers.

5. His grandfather was a West India importer, his father had no

6. Educated in Middleboro and Bridgewater, Mass.

7. His family, Baptists.

8. He can communicate with Spirits best

_a._ At night, or in the evening.

_b._ In cold or snowy weather.

_c._ In dry weather.

_d._ When in a healthy condition.

9. When in communication with Spirits feels _nervous_, but cannot
describe the feeling.

The Medium had on the table two single slates which could be laid upon
each other. The table was about three and a-half feet square, and
covered with a cloth.

The light was kept rather dim.

(The Medium explained later in the evening that writing is best produced
in the dark, because dark is _negative_, light _positive_, and negative
conditions are most favorable to communication.)

Mr. Furness had brought two folding slates, which could be fastened with
a screw.

Dr. Leidy and Mr. Furness and the Medium each held a double slate under
the table.

Mr. Fullerton asked a question as requested, but received no answer from
the Spirits.

Some scratching was now heard under the table.

The Medium took the slate held by Mr. Furness (one not screwed or
fastened by hinges), and it was held under the table by Mr. Furness, Mr.
Hazard and Mr. Briggs.

The Medium seemed much excited, spoke rapidly, etc., and was so much
overcome that he dropped the slate (one brought by Mr. Furness) which he
was holding under the table with his left hand, and left it lying on the
floor under the table.

At 8 o'clock Dr. Koenig came in. The slate held by the Medium, Mr.
Furness and Mr. Hazard, was held in Mr. Hazard's lap, and some taps were
heard. (Mr. Furness afterwards produced taps precisely similar by
rubbing the side of his finger slowly along the side of the slate.)

No writing having been obtained, the Medium declared that he alone would
hold the slate, as the magnetism of Mr. Furness was injurious.

Again we were invited to ask questions. Dr. Leidy asked: 'When and where
did you die?' No answer.

The Medium asked Mr. Furness if his name were not Furness. (Mr. Hazard
had seen the Medium before, and informed him that the Commission was

Mr. Furness now put his hand under the table on the hand of the Medium,
which was pressing the double slate (not the screwed one) up against the

Mr. Furness declared that he heard a certain buzzing noise. The slate
being taken out, there was found written on the inside of the under

I will help
        you all
                R. Dale Owen

and something that looked like "Henry Furness is here."

The slate on the floor being examined, there was found on the _outside_
(it was a screw-slate)

I am here with you
        I will help you
             R. Dale Owen.

Some other illegible marks were found on the slate.

Nothing was obtained on the inside of either screw-slate.

The handwriting on the two slates, purporting to be from R. Dale Owen,
was much alike.

The Medium now took hold of Mr. Hazard's hand, and went into trance,
personating Esther Hazard, a deceased daughter of Mr. Hazard. He (the
Medium) made convulsive motions, trembled, etc., and while in this state
predicted that Mr. Fullerton would receive a very pleasing letter on
Saturday next--said that he should come to the Medium for advice. [No
such letter was received on that date by Mr. Fullerton.]

He also declared that Dr. Koenig had brought with him a Spirit named

He declared Ponto, White-feather, Red Jacket and Thomas Paine to be

(The Medium called "White-feather" _he_, Mr. Hazard objecting that
White-feather was a woman.)

The light was then turned out, and all hands laid upon the table. Mr.
Furness laid one of his hands upon one of the Medium's and upon one of
Mr. Hazard's. (The Medium afterwards asserted that Mr. Furness had held
both his hands. But Mr. Furness was positive that he held only one.) Mr.
Hazard was touched several times about the face. Mr. Furness was touched
on the cheek and on his ear-trumpet and Mr. Fullerton was struck on the
head by a paper thrown from the other side of the table, and touched
once on the back of his left hand by what felt like human fingers.

There were no more manifestations.

The Committee adjourned to Dr. Leidy's house for conference. The above
notes were read and approved.



       *       *       *       *       *

April 8th, 1884.

On Tuesday evening, April 8th, Dr. Leidy and Mr. Furness held another
séance with the Medium formerly examined, Mrs. Patterson. The slates
used belonged to the Medium, and were, as she told them, in daily,
almost hourly use; the frame of one of them was far from sound, and the
hole which admitted the screw was more than well worn. Within these
slates, after being held for a long while by both hands of the Medium
under the table, two or three barely legible words appeared. The screw
was, by no means, as tight after the writing as before. This fact,
together with the prolonged concealment, rendered it impossible to
attach any real importance to the attempt to write, as far as could be
made out, the name of Henry Seybert.

Under the same conditions our colleague, Mr. Sellers, produced writing
for us very satisfactorily.



      *       *       *       *       *

April 17th, 1884.

On Thursday evening, April 17th, 1884, a sitting was held by Mrs.
Patterson with Dr. Koenig, Mr. Fullerton and Mr. Hazard. The Medium
declared herself unwell. No results were obtained. The session was in
Mrs. Patterson's room at No. 508 S. 16th Street.



       *       *       *       *        *

May 31st, 1884.

On Saturday, May 31st, 1884, at 8 P.M., the Commission met at the house
of the Provost, 1811 Spruce Street, for the purpose of sealing a slate
to be left with the Medium, Mrs. Patterson, who was to try to procure
independent writing upon the inside surfaces. There were present Dr.
Pepper, Mr. Furness, Professor Thompson and Mr. Fullerton. Mr. Furness
brought the slate and seals. The slate was the double one used in our
former tests, hinged, and fastening with a screw. A small piece of
pencil was enclosed in the slate, which was perfectly clean, and the
slate was screwed up by Dr. Pepper. The direction of the cut in the
screw-head was marked by a scratch on the wood at the end of the slate.
It was nearly parallel with the long diameter of the slate. Mr. Furness
then tied the slate with red tape, passing the tape longitudinally and
transversely around the middle of the slates.

The first seal (red wax) was on the knot, which was over the under end
of the screw. The end of the screw projected a little through the wood,
but was covered by the seal. The second seal was over the ends of the
tape. The head of the screw was also covered by a seal, and three (3)
additional seals were affixed on the outside edges of the slates, where
they were crossed by the tape.

One of the three impressions at the edges of the slates was made by
Professor Thompson's right thumb. [A test was then proposed by Professor
Thompson, which the Commission does not feel at liberty to make public,
as it has not yet been carried out, and publicity may interfere with its



       *       *       *       *       *

November 5th, 1884.

The Commission met at the house of Mr. Furness, 222 West Washington
Square, on November 5th, 1884, at 8 P.M. There were present Dr. Wm.
Pepper and Mrs. Pepper, Dr. Leidy, Dr. Koenig, Prof. Thompson, Mr.
Furness, Mr. George S. Pepper, Miss Logan, Mr. Fullerton, Mr. Coleman
Sellers, and the Medium, Mrs. Margaret Fox Kane, who was the guest of
Mr. Furness at the time.

Those present seated themselves around an oak dining table, some eight
feet by four and a-half feet and the usual height. Mrs. Kane was at one
end of the table and Mr. Sellers at the other. The Medium sat with her
feet partly under the table, and consequently concealed from most of
those present--her feet were hidden also by her dress.

Dr. Leidy asked the question: "Is any Spirit present?"

Ans. Three raps.

Dr. Leidy: "Will you confer with the man to left of the Medium?"

Ans. Two raps. (No.)

Dr. Leidy: "To the right?"

Ans. Three raps.

Professor Thompson (who was the person indicated): "Is the Spirit male?"

Ans. Three raps.

"Will it answer to the alphabet?"

Three raps. The alphabet was called and "Henry Seybert" spelled out.

Mr. Sellers: "Will Henry Seybert make the raps at this end of the

Ans. No.

"Is he satisfied with the Commission?"

Five raps were given for the alphabet; Professor Thompson called it;
raps spelled out:

"I will be satisfied before the investigation is through."

Mr. Sellers: "Does Mr. Seybert know the names of the Commission?"

Ans. Three raps.

"Does he know who is now speaking?"

Three raps.

Mr. Sellers then pointed to the letters of the alphabet, which he had
written in order on a sheet of paper, and raps spelled out:


Mrs. Kane then tried standing at some distance from the table, with her
hands on the back of a chair; there were some raps seemingly near or
under the Medium.

Raps were produced as members of the Committee stood with the Medium
around the desk in the library, and close to a book-case. Raps were
produced according to the Medium on the glass door of a book-case, upon
which Mr. Sellers placed his hand. Mr. Sellers felt no vibration on the
glass, but raps were heard somewhere in the vicinity.

The Committee then returned to the dining-room and the Medium wrote upon
a sheet of paper the following:

"Friend Pepper: I am happy to meet you here to-night. I have not
forgotten my promise to you, Henry Seybert."

The paper had to be held to the light and read from the obverse side, as
the message was written from right to left.

Mr. Geo. Pepper: "Do you remember the year in which you made the

The answer given in same way was: "It was in the year in which my Spirit
left the body. H.S. Call the alphabet, H.S."

Dr. Pepper called the alphabet--the sentence "Let Friend Pepper call the
alphabet" was rapped out. Mr. Geo. Pepper called the alphabet: the
letters HAND were rapped out, and the communication ceased.

The Medium wrote then as before: "Friend Pepper, meet me again."

It was asked whether Mr. Seybert would meet us on the next evening?

Ans. Three raps.

The Committee adjourned at 9.30 o'clock to meet again at 8 o'clock on
the next evening at the same place.



The following stenographic report of the meeting of November 6th, 1884,
has been read and approved by the Commission before being entered upon
this book.

The few additions which were made when it was read, appear as foot
notes. The report was approved as excellent.

(A Record from the notes of the Stenographer--Mr. J.I. Gilbert.)

PHILADA., November 6th, 1884.

The Committee reconvened this day, at 8 o'clock P.M., at the residence
of Mr. H.H. Furness, when the investigation of the Spirit Rappings, in
the presence of Mrs. Margaret Fox Kane as Medium, was resumed.

The persons present were the following:

Of the Committee--Dr. Leidy, Mr. Furness, Dr. Koenig, Mr. Fullerton, Mr.
Coleman Sellers, and by invitation of the Committee, Mr. Geo. S. Pepper.

The Medium--Mrs. Kane.

The Stenographer--Mr. Gilbert.

The company promptly repaired to the dining-room, and there gathered
around a common pine-wood table, consisting solely of its supports and
top, which had been specially provided, in compliance with the direction
of the Medium. The dimensions of the table, approximately stated, are as
follows: height, three feet; length, four feet; width, two and a-half

The 'Spirit Rappings' during the evening, aside from those heard during
the test with the glass tumblers, were apparently confined to the
floor-space in the immediate vicinity of, and directly beneath the table
described--around which the company were seated in the order here
stated. Mr. Sellers (to whom had been deputed the duty of eliciting the
responses) occupied the chair at the end of the table more remote from
the Stenographer. Next, upon Mr. Sellers' right and at the side of the
table, sat Mr. Pepper, and Mr. Furness in the adjoining seat. The first
chair on the side of the table to the left of Mr. Sellers was occupied
by the Medium, and the remaining chair on the same side by Mr.
Fullerton. At the near end of the table, Dr. Leidy and Dr. Koenig were
seated. The Committee, with one exception, in accordance with a
requirement imposed by the Medium, rested their hands upon the table and
fixed their minds upon the subject of the rappings. The exception was
Dr. Koenig, who, being seated at a distance of three feet from the
table, could not conveniently comply with the requirement. After the
expiration of some twenty minutes, the Medium requested Dr. Koenig to
place his hands upon the table, and he promptly complied with the
request and moved his chair closer to that of Dr. Leidy, thus depriving
himself of any facilities of observation of the space beneath the table.

The Stenographer was at a table about four feet from the circle of the

The lengths of the intervals between the questions addressed to the
Spirits and the responses thereto, were computed by the audible
second-strokes of a clock in an adjoining apartment; the periods of
waiting being necessarily brief in view of the assurance of the Medium
(as set forth in its proper place in the Report) that "When the raps
come, they come right away."

The "Spirit Rappings" varied materially in quality and character, being
at times faintly, and at other times distinctly audible.

The record of the Investigation is as follows:

Mr. Sellers: Is any Spirit present now?

Three raps--faint and partly indistinct--are almost instantly audible.
The raps apparently emanate from the floor-space directly beneath, or in
the immediate vicinity of the table. This remark is applicable to all
the rappings during the séance at the pine table.

The Medium (interpreting the sounds): That was "Yes."

Mr. Sellers (aside): They sounded like three.

The raps are immediately repeated with more distinctness.

Mr. Sellers (aside): There are three, and they are quite distinct.

(Resuming): Is the Spirit the same one that was present last night?

Three raps, apparently identical with those last heard, are again

Mr. Sellers (aside): It says it is the same Spirit.

(Resuming): I presume then it is Henry Seybert?

(No response.) Is it Henry Seybert?

Three raps--distinct and positive.

Mr. Sellers: You promised last evening to give a communication to Mr.
Pepper. Are you able to communicate with him now?

Two raps--comparatively feeble.

The Medium (interpreting): One, two: that means "not now."

Mr. Sellers (repeating): "Not now."

The Medium (reflectively): But probably before he leaves.

Three raps--quickly, distinctly and instantly given.

The Medium: He said "Yes," "before he leaves." (To Mr. Sellers): You
asked that question, I think?

Mr. Sellers: Yes. (Resuming): Will you communicate with him before Mr.
Pepper leaves to-night?

Three raps--instantaneous, quick and vigorous. The sounds in this
instance are four times repeated, the repetitions being in quick
succession and apparently without variation in quality or character.

Mr. Sellers (addressing his associates): It has been very clearly shown
to-night that certain sounds of greater or less volume have been
produced. We have heard the sounds. We are conscious that they are raps.
It is exceedingly important, in deference to the Medium herself, that we
should prove that she has nothing to do with the production of the
sounds other than in a Spiritualistic capacity. I would like to ask her
if there is any test that she herself can propose which would be capable
of satisfying us that she does not produce the sounds.

The Medium: I could name a great many tests, but they might not be
satisfactory to you; for instance, the one of standing on glass
tumblers, where the raps are produced on the floor.

Mr. Sellers: Will the raps be produced under such circumstances?

The Medium: I cannot say that they will be, any more than I can say that
they will be produced through the use of the table. In fact, they are
not so readily produced sometimes.

Mr. Sellers: I understand your position. But you say that there are
cases in which, when the Medium is standing upon glass, the sounds are

The Medium: Oh, yes. I mention that--the producing through glass--as one
of the most difficult of tests.

Mr. Sellers: Then the sounds will be just beneath your feet, will they?

The Medium: Well, they will seem to be. They may be on the side.

After a brief interval, during which Mr. Furness absented himself to
procure glass tumblers, the colloquy with the Medium was resumed.

Mr. Sellers: While we are waiting for those tumblers, will you repeat
the experiment of last night, that of standing near the table and not
touching it, to see if the same character of sounds then produced can be
again heard? Last evening we had a very satisfactory exhibition of that.

The Medium: Yes. But we have to keep to a certain condition; that is,
you are not to break. For instance, if you will all stand up and stand
touching the table--all of us--until we get started, it will be some

All of the gentlemen and the Medium rise and remain standing with their
hands in contact with the table.

The Medium (continuing): This is a test, something that I have not gone
through with since I was a little child almost.

Mr. Sellers (after an interval of waiting): There seem to be no raps.
(Another short interval.) Now, Mr. Seybert, cannot you produce some

Eighty seconds here elapsed with no response, when the Medium made an
observation which was partly inaudible at the Reporter's seat, the
purport of which was that the Spirit communications are sometimes
retarded or facilitated by a compliance by the listeners with certain
conditions. Another interval of probably two minutes elapsed, when the
Medium suggested to Dr. Leidy to place his hands upon the table. The
suggestion was complied with.

Mr. Sellers inquires of the Medium whether a change in her position,
with regard to the table, would do any good.

The Medium: I will change positions with you.

The change was made accordingly, but without result, and another period
of waiting followed.

The Medium (to Dr. Leidy): Suppose you ask some questions. You may have
some friend who will respond.

Dr. Leidy: Is any Spirit present whom I know, or who knows me?

After a pause of ten seconds, three light raps are heard.

Dr. Leidy: Who am I?

The Medium explains that the responses by rappings are mainly indicative
only of affirmation or negation.

Dr. Leidy: Will you repeat your taps to indicate that you are present

Three taps are heard.

Mr. Sellers: Those are very clearly heard.

The Medium (to Dr. Leidy): Ask if that is Mr. Seybert?

Dr. Leidy: Is Mr. Seybert present?

Three raps--very feeble.

Dr. Leidy (to Mr. Sellers): Was there an answer to that?

Mr. Sellers: There was. The answer was three raps. (After an interval,
in which no response is received): There seem to be no further
communications. I suggest that the test with the glass tumblers be now

Upon the suggestion of the Medium, the test referred to was momentarily
deferred, and Mr. Sellers made this inquiry:

It is proposed that the Medium shall stand upon tumblers. Are we likely
to have any demonstration?

Three raps--promptly given, though feeble in delivery and but faintly

The Medium: There were three--a kind of tardy assent.

Mr. Sellers (to the Medium): As if the Spirits might or might not

The Medium: Well, that a trial might be made.

Three raps are here again instantly heard--the characteristics of the
sounds in this instance being rapidity and energy, or positiveness.

The Medium: That is a quick answer.

At this point attention is directed to the first of a series of
experiments with four glass tumblers, which are placed together, with
the bottoms upward, on the carpeted floor, in the centre of a vacant
space. The Medium stands directly upon these, the heels of her shoes
resting upon the rear tumblers and the soles upon the front tumblers.
The Committee co-operate with the Medium, and, in conformity with her
suggestions, all the men clasp hands and form a semi-circle in front of
the Medium, the hands of the latter being grasped by the gentlemen
nearest to her on either side.

Mr. Sellers (after a notification from the Medium to proceed): Is Mr.
Seybert still present?

No response.

The Medium: It may be a few minutes before you will hear any rapping
through these glasses.

Ten seconds elapse.

The Medium: This test is a very satisfactory one, if they do it. And
they have done it a hundred times.

Five seconds elapse.

The Medium (to Mr. Furness): The glasses are not placed over marble, are

Mr. Furness: No; the floor is of wood.

Mr. Sellers (after another interval of waiting) informally remarked to
Mr. Furness: We will wait probably for another minute to see if anything
comes. As you know, the Medium claims it is impossible for her to
control these things--that she is merely one who is operated through.

Another interval expires.

The Medium: That was a very faint rap. Suppose we change the position of
the glasses.

Note by the Stenographer.--No intimation is given that the rap here
spoken of was heard by any one other than the Medium herself. Pursuant
to the request just stated, the carpet is removed and the glass tumblers
are located on the bare floor at a point about five feet distant from
the place at which the first test was tried. The new location is in the
centre of a passage way, about three feet in width, between a side-board
on one side and a wall projection on the other. Its selection is
apparently, though not specifically, dictated by the position and
movements of the Medium. The Medium and the Committee resume their
positions, the former standing on the glasses and the gentlemen facing
her in a group.

The Medium: Now, Spirits, will you rap on the floor?

Thirty seconds here elapsed with no response, when one glass was heard
to click against another, and the Medium exclaimed, "Oh."

The Medium (repeating): Will you rap on the floor?

Thirty seconds now elapse without any demonstration.

The Medium (aside): It seems to be a failure. They have done it.

Another click of the glasses, which passes without comment.

Mr. Sellers: We will have to set down the result of the experiment on
glass tumblers as negative. It may be well to try it later.

The Medium (evidently reluctant to abandon the test): Suppose now, as we
have gone so far, we kind of form a chain.

The company retained their positions with hands joined, and the Spirits
were repeatedly requested to make their presence known--Mr. Pepper, at
the suggestion of the Medium, asking the Spirit of his friend, Henry
Seybert, to manifest its presence by one rap--but all efforts to elicit
such response proved ineffectual. The glasses were then removed and the
requests were again reiterated, but with a like negative result. The
Medium finally remarked that she had rarely known of failures with the
glass tumblers, but it had been a long time since she had tried them.
She suggested that this branch of the investigation might be deferred
until later.

The Committee acquiesced in the suggestion and returned to the pine
table, where, with the Medium, they resume their original positions. The
Stenographer is seated at the table in the rear of the company.

Mr. Sellers: Now we have returned to the table. Can you indicate on the
table your presence, Mr. Seybert?

An interval of sixty-four seconds here followed.

The Medium: Ask some questions that would interest him in life.

As Mr. Sellers was repeating to Mr. Pepper the suggestion made by the
Medium, three raps were heard.

Mr. Sellers: There is now a communication that he is present.

Mr. Pepper: Harry, would you like to know something about this
investigation of Spiritual manifestations, which you had so much at
heart while living?

Three raps--prompt and decided.

Mr. Sellers: Do you, Mr. Seybert, at the present time, see the persons
present? Are they visible before you?

Two raps--noticeably slow.

Mr. Sellers (aside): He says "No, they are not."

The Medium (interpreting): Well, that would be too--'partially.'

Dr. Koenig: What would that mean--that he only sees some of us, or that
he sees none of us entirely, but only partially?

The Medium: That he sees us, but not clearly.

Mr. Sellers: Will you please rap the number of the members of the
Committee who are present at this time?

Three raps.

Mr. Sellers: Now, say how many.

Three raps.

Mr. Sellers: Are there only three?

The Medium (to Mr. Sellers): That answer was 'Yes,' I think.

Mr. Sellers: Well, you say you can do it. Please count the number of the
members of the Committee who are present.

[A]Seven raps--very slow, deliberate and distinct.

[Footnote A: When, in answer to Mr. Sellers' question, the raps counted
the number of the Committee present, the number seven was indicated.
_This counted in Mr. George S. Pepper and the Stenographer._--G.S.F.]

Mr. Sellers: Are there seven members of the Committee present?

Three raps.

Mr. Sellers: Are they all seated around one table?

No response. About forty seconds elapse.

Mr. Sellers: Are they seated at two tables?

[B]Three raps--quite feeble.

[Footnote B: When the raps indicated that the members of the Commission
sat at _two_ tables, this expressly included in the number of the
Commission the Stenographer, who sat at a different table from that at
which the members of the Commission were seated at the time of asking
the question.--G.S.F.]

Mr. Sellers (to his associates): We still must go back to the one thing.
The information we receive through these responses is of little
importance to us compared with the information which we must obtain as
to whether these sounds are produced by a disembodied Spirit or by some
living person; that is, in deference to the Medium. (To Mr. Furness): Do
you not think so?

Mr. Furness is understood to assent.

Mr. Sellers (continuing): We have tried the glass tumblers. We have the
sounds here. I would ask Mrs. Kane if it is proper for us to look below
the top of the table at the time the sounds are being produced, and in
such a way as to see her feet.

The Medium: Yes, of course, you could do that, but it is not well to
break, when you are standing, suddenly. As you know, you have to conform
to the rules, else you will get no rappings.

Mr. Sellers: What are the rules?

The Medium (disconnectedly): The rules are--every test condition, that I
am perfectly willing to go through, and have gone through a thousand
times--at the same time, there are times when you can break the rules.
So slight a thing as the disjoining of hands may break the rules. I do
not think the standing on the glass has been fully tried.

Mr. Sellers: We will try that later.

Mr. Furness (to the Medium--informally): This investigation is one of
great importance to us. There is no question about it--we have heard
these curious sounds. Now, as to whether they come from Spirits or
not--that would seem to be the very next logical step in our inquiry. I
think you are entirely at one with us in every possible desire to have
this phenomenon investigated.

The Medium: Oh, certainly. But I pledge myself to conform to nothing,
for--as I said in Europe--I do not even say the sounds are from Spirits;
and, what is more, it is utterly beyond human power to detect them. I do
not say they are the Spirits of our departed friends, but I leave others
to judge for themselves.

Mr. Furness: Then you have come to the conclusion that they are entirely
independent of yourself.

The Medium: No, I do not know that they are entirely independent of

Mr. Furness: Under what conditions can you influence them?

The response, which was partly inaudible at the Reporter's seat, was
understood to be: "I cannot tell."

Mr. Furness: You say that, in the generality of cases, they are beyond
your control?

The Medium: Yes.

Mr. Furness: How in the world shall we test that?

The Medium: Well, by--

Mr. Furness: By--what? Isolating you from the table?

The Medium: Yes.

Mr. Furness (applying his right hand, by her permission, to the Medium's
head): Are you ever conscious of any vibration in your bones?

The Medium: No; but sometimes it causes an exhaustion, that is, under
circumstances when the raps do not come freely.

Mr. Furness: The freer the raps come, the better for you?

The Medium: Yes; the freer the better--the less exhaustion.

Mr. Sellers: But do you feel now, to-night, any untoward influence
operating against you?

The Medium: No, not to-night, for it takes quite a little while before
we feel those things.

Mr. Furness: Do these raps always have that vibratory

The Medium: Sometimes they vary.

Mr. Furness: As a general rule I have heard them sound so.

The Medium: Every rap has a different sound. For instance, when the
Spirit of Mr. Seybert rapped, if the sound was a good one, you would
have noticed that his rap was different from that of another. Every one
is entirely different from another.

Mr. Furness: Do you suppose that the present conditions are such that
you can throw the raps to a part of the room other than that in which
you are?

The Medium: I do not pretend to do that, but I will try to do it.

Mr. Furness and Dr. Leidy station themselves in the corner of the room,
diagonally, and most remote from the pine table, at which their
associates remain seated, with their hands upon the table, and 'their
minds intent on having the raps produced at the corner indicated,' as
requested by the Medium, who also remains at the table. The Medium asks,
'Will the Spirit rap at the other side of the room,' and, after twelve
seconds, and again after forty-three seconds, repeats the inquiry. No
response is received. The experiment is repeated with Mr. Furness and
Dr. Koenig at the corner, but with a like negative result.

At this point the attention of the Committee was again directed to the
attempted production of the rappings with the Medium standing upon the
glass tumblers. The lady proceeded to the space between the side-board
and the wall where the last preceding test had been made, and there the
tumblers were again arranged. The Medium resumed her position upon them,
with Doctors Leidy and Koenig, and Messrs. Sellers and Furness facing

The Medium: Will the Spirit rap here?

Twenty-three seconds elapse.

Dr. Leidy: Is any Spirit present?

An interval of thirty-nine seconds here followed, when the attention of
the Committee was momentarily diverted by an inquiry addressed to Mr.
Furness by Mr. Sellers, viz.: Whether a glass plate of sufficient
strength to bear the weight of the Medium was procurable. At this moment
the Medium suddenly exclaimed: 'I heard a rap. You said, "Get a glass,"
and there was a rap.'[A]

[Footnote A: No one but the Medium heard this rap.--G.S.F.]

The Medium (repeating for the information of Mr. Furness): Somebody
proposed a glass and there were three raps.

Dr. Koenig inquires of the Medium whether the meaning intended to be
conveyed by the sounds is that the Spirits desire to have the glass
plate procured.

The Medium: I do not know. I know there were raps. (Turning to Mr.
Sellers, the Medium adds): They may have been made by your heel on the
floor but certainly there were sounds.

Mr. Fullerton: Then it was not the regular triple rap?

The Medium: I could not tell.

Just before calling attention to the alleged rap or raps the Medium
grasped with her right hand the woodwork of the side-board as if for
support. It was then that she stated she heard the sounds. They were
apparently not heard by any one but the Medium.

Mr. Sellers (addressing the Spirit): Will you repeat the raps we heard
just now, assuming that there were some?

Ten minutes elapse without a response.

The Medium: There is no use of my standing longer, for when they come at
all they come right away.

Mr. Sellers (after scrutinizing the position of one of the feet of the
Medium, remarks): The edge of the heel of the shoe rests on the back
tumbler. (Assuming a stooping posture for a more prolonged scrutiny, he
adds): We will see whether the raps will be produced now.

The Medium now proposes that all members of the Committee shall stand up
and join hands.

Mr. Sellers and his associates accordingly stand, facing the Medium,
with hands joined. Changes in their positions were made by some of the
gentlemen from time to time, as suggested by the Medium, Mr. Pepper and
Dr. Koenig being the first to exchange places. This occurred after a
silence of thirty seconds without any response.

The Medium: Now, Mr. Seybert, if your Spirit is here, will you have the
kindness--I knew Mr. Seybert well in life--to rap?

Fifteen seconds elapse.

The Medium: No, he does not seem to respond.

At the suggestion of Mr. Sellers, all the gentlemen approach the Medium
for the purpose of inducing some acknowledgment by the Spirit, and
inquiries similar to those already stated are repeated without result.
The Committee then temporarily abandon this test.

All present (except the Stenographer) having been seated at the large
circular table in the centre of the room, Mr. Pepper addressed the
Spirit of Mr. Seybert, as follows: 'Harry, will you communicate with me
as you promised to do?'

(Three raps--given slowly and deliberately--are heard.)

Mr. Sellers: Will you communicate with Mr. Pepper by raps or by
writing? (No response.) Will you communicate by raps?

The Medium (to Mr. Sellers): Well, my hand does feel like writing. Will
you give me a piece of paper?--and maybe they will give me some

Mr. Fullerton (to the Medium): How does your hand feel when affected in
that way?

The Medium: It is a peculiar feeling, like that from taking hold of
electrical instruments. I do not know but that you might possibly feel
it in my hand.

The lady here extended her right hand upon the table toward Mr.
Fullerton. The latter placed his left hand upon the extended hand of the
Medium, and subsequently remarked that the pulsation of her wrist was a
little above the ordinary rate.

The Medium, ostensibly under Spirit influence, with lead pencil in hand
proceeded to write two communications from the Spirit of the late Henry
Seybert. The first of these covered two pages of paper of the size of
ordinary foolscap. The Medium wrote in large characters, with remarkable
rapidity, and in a direction from the right to the left, or the reverse
of ordinary handwriting. The writing, consequently, could be read only
from the reverse side of the paper and by being held up so as to permit
the gas-light to pass through it.

The communications, as deciphered by Mr. Sellers, with the aid of Mr.
Fullerton and the Medium, were as follows: "You must not expect that I
can satisfy you beyond all doubt in so short a time as you have yet had.
I want to give you all in my power, and will do so if you will give me a
chance. You must commence right in the first place or you shall all be
disappointed for a much longer time. _Princiipis Obsta Sero Medicina

Henry Seybert.

"Mend the fault in time or we will all be puzzled.

Henry Seybert."

The foregoing were understood to be directed to Mr. Pepper, in
accordance with the assurance given by the Spirit that it would
communicate with him.

Subsequently, when the trance condition had apparently disappeared, the
Medium complied with a request to write, as it would be read to her, the
Latin phrase at the end of the first communication. Using the pencil in
her right hand, she transcribed slowly and in the usual direction from
left to right. The style of her handwriting was small and comparatively
neat. Apparently in every particular her writing in this instance was
the exact opposite of that made by her while in the alleged trance
condition. She here stated that, ordinarily, she wrote in the same
manner in which people generally write, with her right hand and from
left to right. With respect to her inability to transcribe the Latin
words until these had been spelled for her, she explained that she was
not at all familiar with Latin.[A]

[Footnote A: Mr. George S. Pepper, who was present, said that Mr.
Seybert knew no Latin.--G.S.F.]

A member of the Committee, commenting upon a defect in the spelling of
the first of the Latin words in the Spirit communication, suggested that
the error might be accounted for on the hypothesis that Mr. Seybert, in
life, was accustomed to the use of poor Latin.

The Medium farther explained that her understanding of the second
communication was that it was a translation of the Latin contained in
the first.

The glass tumblers are here again produced and the Medium takes her
position upon them, with Mr. Fullerton standing next to her upon the
right and Mr. Furness to the left. Mr. Sellers remains for some moments
kneeling on the floor to enable himself better to hear any sounds that
may be but faintly audible. The Spirits are repeatedly importuned by the
Medium to produce the rappings, but no response is heard until the
company is about to abandon the experiment. Three raps are then audible.
The raps are very light but very distinct.

Mr. Fullerton states that he heard the raps.

Mr. Sellers: I heard a sound then, but it seemed as if it was around
there. (Indicating along the wall immediately in the rear of the

The tumblers are here moved further away from the wall and the Medium
resumes her position upon them.

Mr. Sellers: Will the Spirit rap again? (No response.)

The Medium: Were any of you gentlemen acquainted with Mr. Seybert in his

Mr. Fullerton: I saw him several times before his death. If he can give
an intimation now of anything he said at that time, it will indicate
that he remembers it.

A very faint rap is heard.

The Medium: There is a rap. It seems to be there again. (Indicating the
spot to which attention was previously called by Mr. Sellers.)

The Medium again importunes, first, 'Mr. Seybert' and next 'the Spirits'
'to rap;' and the importunities are repeated. Three raps are distinctly
but faintly heard.

Mr. Sellers: I heard them. They sounded somewhat like the others, not

The Medium: I heard one rap, but it is nothing for me to hear them; I
want you gentlemen to hear them.

Mr. Sellers: Probably we will hear them again.

While Mr. Sellers and Mr. Furness are conversing, several raps are
heard, though less distinct than the preceding ones.

The Medium: There they are as though right under the glass. (After a
silence of forty seconds): Now I hear them again very light--oh, very

Mr. Furness, with the permission of the Medium, places his hand upon one
of her feet.

The Medium: There are raps now, strong--yes, I hear them.

Mr. Furness (to the Medium): 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.

Mr. Sellers here made some inquiries of the Medium, concerning the shoes
now worn by her. The replies, which were not direct, are here given.

Mr. Sellers: Are those the shoes which you usually wear?

The Medium: I wear all kinds of shoes.

Mr. Sellers: Are the sounds sometimes produced in your room when you
have no shoes on.

The Medium: More or less. They are produced under all circumstances.

Following the suggestion of the Medium, all present proceed through an
intervening apartment to the library where the Medium selects various
positions--standing upon a lounge, then upon a cushioned chair, next
upon a step-ladder and finally upon the side of a book-case--but all
with a like unsuccessful result, no response by rappings being heard.

Upon an intimation being given by a member of the Committee that the
Medium may be wearied, the further prosecution of the Investigation is
temporarily deferred.

       *       *       *       *       *

After the examination of Mrs. Kane, and after the Stenographer had left,
the Commission held a conference, and commissioned Mr. Furness to lay
before Mrs. Kane the question of continuing or closing the
investigation, so far as she was concerned. If she were sanguine of more
satisfactory results at another séance, the Commission was willing to
prolong the investigation.



Below is given the letter from Mr. Furness, explaining why the
investigation of Mrs. Kane was not continued. The decision to
discontinue it came from her.

My Dear Fullerton:

You remember that the members of The Seybert Commission separated last
evening with the understanding that we should meet Mrs. Kane again this
evening, if Mrs. Kane desired it, and that they requested me to lay the
question before her for her decision.

Accordingly, I had an interview with her this morning, of which the
following is as accurate an account as I can remember.

I told her that the Commission had now had two séances with her, and
that the conclusion to which they had come is that the so-called raps
are confined wholly to her person, whether produced by her voluntarily
or involuntarily they had not attempted to decide; furthermore, that
although thus satisfied in their own minds they were anxious to treat
her with all possible deference and consideration, and accordingly had
desired me to say to her that if she thought another séance with her
would or might modify or reverse their conclusion, they held themselves
ready to meet her again this evening and renew the investigation of the
manifestations; at the same time I felt it my duty to add that in that
case the examination would necessarily be of the most searching

Mrs. Kane replied that the manifestations at both séances had been of an
unsatisfactory nature, so unsatisfactory that she really could not blame
the Commission for arriving at their conclusion. In her present state of
health she doubted whether a third meeting would prove any better than
the two already held. It might be even more unsatisfactory, and instead
of removing the present belief of the Commission it might add
confirmation of it. In view of these considerations, she decided not to
hold another séance.

Afterward, during the forenoon (you know she has been and still is my
guest), she recurred to the subject, and added that if hereafter her
health improved it would give her pleasure to make a free-will offering
to the Commission of a number of séances for further investigations.

I forgot to tell you, when we last met, that yesterday morning, the 6th
of November, I brought away from Mrs. Patterson our sealed slate. It
contains no writing, so Mrs. Patterson says. During the many months that
it has been in this Medium's possession I have made to her the most
urgent appeals, both in person and by letter, to fulfill her promise of
causing the writing to appear in it. Her invariable excuse has been her
lack of time.

I Remain Yours,


_Acting Chairman_.

7th November, 1884.

It will be seen from the last paragraph of the preceding letter that the
attempt to produce 'independent writing' on the inside of the slate
sealed by the Commission was without result.

The slate was sealed on May 31st, 1884 (as described in the records of
the meeting of that date), was placed in the hands of the Medium, Mrs.
Patterson, the next day, where it remained until November 6th.



       *       *       *       *       *

January 16th, 1885.

The Commission met on Friday evening, January 16th, 1885, for the
purpose of examining a second slate which had been sealed by Mr. Furness
and left with Mrs. Patterson, and was now returned to the Commission.

The slate was screwed and sealed by Mr. Furness, just before Christmas,
and was in the hands of the Medium until January 12th.

[So importunate was the Acting Chairman in his entreaties to Mrs.
Patterson to bring to bear on these slates all her Spiritual power, that
at last he induced her to name a certain afternoon that should be
devoted to the task. He went to her house on the day named, and sat
with her while she held the slates in her lap. To increase to the
utmost all available Spiritual force, Mrs. Patterson's two daughters and
her brother-in-law, Mr. Winner, were called in and shared the session.
After sitting for nearly two hours, the little pencil had not made its
appearance on the outside, but could still be heard rattling inside, and
the obdurate Spirits were abandoned for the day.--H.H.F.]

The slate was secured as follows:


The two leaves of the slate were fastened by four screws at 1, 2, 3 and
4; one side of the slate was already secured by the hinges 8, 8; the
slate had then been wrapped by the tape 9, 9, as indicated, the knot
being at 4; seals had then been set over the heads of the screws, upon
the tape, at 1, 2, 3 and 4, and also over the ends of the screws, upon
the tape, on the other side of the slate; a seal was also placed upon
the ends of the tape at 5; and two seals at one corner, at the places
indicated by 6 and 7. The corner marked by the arrow (<--) was protected
only by the screws and seals at 3 and 4.

When the slate was shaken no sound of the rattling of the pencil was
heard--a pencil-scrap having been enclosed as usual in the slate when it
was sealed. The Medium had declared that the pencil was gone, but said
she did not know whether there was writing on the slate or not.

The seals were first examined and declared intact.

Then Dr. Leidy pushed a thin knife-blade between the slates at the
unprotected corner, marked by the arrow on the sketch.

Then Mr. Sellers pushed in a thick knife-blade a little to one side of
Dr. Leidy's. (The exact place is marked on the rim of the slate
itself.) Both the blades were thrust straight in--Dr. Leidy's exactly at
the corner, and Mr. Sellers's at the point marked, and neither of them
was worked about between the slates.

The slates were thus separated by the thick knife-blade about one-tenth
of an inch.

The seals were not broken by this.

While the slates were thus separated, it was noticed that the wood was
discolored and rubbed glossy on the sides of the crack.

Mr. Sellers then removed the tape, seals and screws.

The slate being opened, no pencil was found and no pencil-marks appeared
on the slate.

The rims were worn smooth and blackened at the corner where the slates
could be separated; this was very distinct.

Some soap-stone dust, which Dr. Koenig identified under a microscope as
the same with a remaining fragment of the pencil inserted (which Mr.
Furness had preserved), was found rubbed into the same corner, showing
that _the slates had been separated and the piece of pencil worked out_.

Mr. Furness then produced three slates of the same sort (with hinges,
and about 8 in. by 6.) to be used in the presence of Dr. Slade.

They were screwed up with a bit of pencil inside, in the presence of the
Commission. Each was marked on the inside by Mr. Sellers, with a scratch
from a diamond. To Mr. Furness was delegated the work of sealing them.
[As Dr. Slade, however, refused to use any of our sealed slates, our
labor was wasted.]



       *       *       *       *       *

The following is a stenographic report of a meeting of the Commission,
to consider the reports offered by several members of séances with Dr.
Henry Slade, who came to Philadelphia to meet the Commission. As he
refused to sit with more than three of the Commission at a time, it was
necessary to visit him in sections. Arrangements had been made to have
all the members sit with him in turn, but it was soon decided that
continuity of observation was valuable, and certain members were
appointed to do the whole work.

(A record from the notes of the Stenographer, Mr. J.I. Gilbert.)

PHILADA., February 7th, 1885.

A formal session of the Seybert Committee was held to-day at 8 o'clock
P.M., at the residence of Mr. Furness, No. 222 West Washington Square.

The session was devoted to consideration of the séances held with Dr.
Henry Slade, from January 21st to January 28th inclusive.

The following is a compilation of written notes and verbal comments upon
the séances by members of the Committee:

Mr. Coleman Sellers (referring to notes):

The Committee met on January 21st, 1885, at the Girard House,
Philadelphia, in Room 24.

There were present: Messrs. Thompson, Sellers and Furness, of the
Committee, and the Medium, Dr. Henry Slade.

The séance was conducted at a pine table prepared by the Medium, which
was supplied with two falling leaves and stationed at a point remote
from the centre of the room, and contiguous to a wall of the apartment.
Upon the table were two ordinary writing slates and fragments of slate

The relative positions of the Medium and the Committee were as follows:
the Medium was seated in the space between the table and the wall.
Professor Thompson occupied a chair at the side of the table to the
right, and Mr. Furness one at the side to the left of the Medium. Mr.
Sellers was seated at the side directly opposite to the Medium.

After calling attention to the slates and the pencil pieces, the Medium
remarked that, as his baggage had not come to hand, he was apprehensive
that the sitting would not be a very good one. A brief, general
conversation followed, and then, complying with a direction of the
Medium, all present joined hands upon the table. Thereupon the Medium
abruptly started back, and, remarking that he had received a very severe
shock of some kind, inquired whether the gentlemen present had not
experienced a like sensation. The responses were in the negative.

The Medium next proposed to give an exhibition of "Spiritism" through
the agency of communications invisibly written upon the apparently blank
surface of one of the slates. At this point Mr. Sellers asked that the
table be examined, and, with the assent of the Medium, an examination
was accordingly made by the Committee; the only noteworthy result of
which was the discovery immediately beneath the table-top of openings
or slots into which the bars supporting the table leaves entered when
turned to permit the lowering of the leaves.

(Mr. Sellers here continued, without reference to notes):

These slots and the use to which I ascertained they might be applied are
worthy of special comment, as they played a very important part in all
the expositions that were made of the Medium Slade's manifestations. The
slot under the table into which the vibrating bar passed when the leaf
was lowered was an inch and a-quarter in depth. At a later period of the
meeting, when the opportunity was afforded, I took the slate in my hand,
and, from the table side at which I was seated (the one directly
opposite the Medium's position) passed it into the slot, allowing it to
rest there diagonally. Upon removing my hand the slate remained
suspended in its place, and in a position in which it could conveniently
be written upon. I may add that this arrangement of the slate is said to
be an essential feature of Slade's favorite method of writing. The
Medium did not fail to notice my experiment of passing the slate into
the slot, and, upon the occasion of my second attendance at the
"manifestations" (which was at the third meeting of the Committee),
having dispensed with the table I have described and prepared another,
he somewhat ostentatiously called attention to the fact that the table
then produced contained no slots such as those of which I have spoken. I
have a memorandum of the size of the slots. The dimensions of the table
last referred to are given in Mr. Fullerton's report.

(Mr. Sellers, referring again to his notes):

Taking a slate in his hand Slade held it beneath the table leaf to his
right, when almost immediately there was a succession of faintly audible
sounds such as would have been made by writing on the slate under the
table. A knock indicated that the writing had ceased. The Medium then
attempted to withdraw the slate, but in this encountered a seeming
resistance, and only succeeded by a jerk, as if wrenching the slate from
the grasp of a strong person who was below the table. Upon the slate,
which was at once inspected, appeared in a fair, running handwriting,
and as if written with a pencil held firmly in hand, the following:

"My friends,

Look well to the truth and learn wisdom, I am truly

James Clark."

(Continuing, without reference to notes):

This writing differed entirely, in general appearance, from the
subsequent writings upon the slate, having apparently been made with the
rounded point of a pencil held in an easy and natural position for
writing. In other instances the writings had a strained and artificial
appearance, and had evidently been made with a pencil point which had
been flattened before being used.

Professor Thompson (to Mr. Sellers): Do you remember that at the session
of which you now speak the Medium denied having any knowledge of James
Clark, and afterwards said that he did know of him?

Mr. Sellers: I remember distinctly that he said he knew nothing of James
Clark's affairs, and that, on another day, he presented a communication
from a William Clark.

(Mr. Sellers here resumed his reading from notes, as follows):

The writing was obliterated from it and the slate again held under the
table, when the question was asked, "Will you do more." An interval of
perhaps one or two minutes elapsed when the slate was exhibited, and
upon it appeared the word "Yes." The word had been written with a
broad-ended pencil, and neither in style nor character resembled the
first writing.

Mr. Sellers, complying with the Medium's request to write a question on
the back of the slate, wrote "Do you know the persons present?" The
response which was made to this was "Yes, we do."

No additional manifestations by writings were made at the first meeting.
During the sitting many raps were produced on the table through some
invisible agency, and as these sounds, in some instances, were such as
could be made by simple means and at the command of a person sitting at
the table, a member of the Committee reproduced the sounds. It was the
conviction of the members of the Committee present that the sounds thus
produced were similar to the sounds said to have been made by Spirits.
The Medium, however, professed his ability to distinguish between the
two classes of sounds, and remarked that some of the sounds heard by him
were such as would be made by a person touching the table and causing it
to make the raps; that such sounds were not from the Spirits; that when
the raps were genuine they caused a peculiar sensation, a sort of
tremor, in his breast, and, therefore, he could tell when the raps were

(Mr. Sellers, aside): In other words, that none were genuine but those
made by himself.

(Resuming, from notes): The Medium, in answer to inquiries, gave a
detailed description of the remarkable phenomena said to have been
produced in the presence of Professor Zoellner--which, he said, were as
unexpected to himself (Slade) as they were to any one; that they were
beyond his control, and evidently the work of Spirits under very
favorable conditions.

Mr. Sellers here read the minutes of the meeting of January 22d, 1885,
as prepared by Professor Fullerton.

(The minutes are as follows):

The Committee met on Thursday, January 22d, 1885, at 12 M., in the
Girard House, Philadelphia.

Present: Messrs. Thompson, Furness, Fullerton and the Medium, Henry

A table measuring five or four and a-half by three feet, was used by the
Medium. It was an oval table with two leaves. The Medium sat at one
side, with Mr. Furness at the end of the table to his left, Professor
Thompson at the end to his right, and Mr. Fullerton opposite. A circle
was first formed by joining hands upon the table.

A slate was passed to Mr. Fullerton by the Medium, with the request that
it be held by him under the table leaf to his (Mr. Fullerton's) left.
The slate was held by Mr. Fullerton as requested, but at no time during
the sitting was any writing produced on the slate. Toward the close of
the séance the slate was held for some time under the opposite table
leaf by Messrs. Furness and Fullerton.

Dr. Slade, after cleaning a slate, held it under the table-leaf to his
right, in the space between himself and Professor Thompson. The slate
was not held close to the table, but in a slanting position, so that a
space of perhaps four or five inches was left between the edge of the
slate farthest removed from the table and the table itself. A piece of
pencil, broken from a small pencil--about 1-16th to 1-12th in. cross
section, was laid on the slate.

A series of questions were here propounded, in each instance the inquiry
being followed by a scratching sound, and the slate being then withdrawn
from under the table and showing writing upon it. These writings were
construed as responses.

The questions and answers were as follows:--

1. It was asked: Will the Spirits answer questions?

Ans. (as above). 'We will try,'

2. Is the gentleman opposite a Medium? (Mr. Fullerton.)

Ans. He has some power.

3. Are there more Spirits than one present?

Ans. Yes, there is.

4. Another communication which appeared on the slate was 'we will do
more soon.'

5. Ques. Do you move this pencil?

Ans. We do, of course.

6. Tell us if you will play the accordion, or try to to-day?

Ans. Yes.

The accordion (a small one) was then held partly under the leaf of the
table, where the slates had been. It played a little. The members of the
Commission could not see it when in that position, or at least could not
see the whole of it. Mr. Fullerton, by looking under Professor
Thompson's arm, over the table, could occasionally catch a glimpse of it
as Dr. Slade moved it to and fro, but saw only one corner.

Dr. Slade then marked a slate with a line, and laid one of the bits of
pencil upon the line. A large slate pencil was then laid along the edge
of the slate. The slate was placed below the edge of the table beside
Dr. Slade (to his right, as usual) when the large pencil was thrown up
into the air two and a-half or three feet above the table.

When the slate was brought up into view again the small bit of pencil
was still in its place. This would, of course, be nothing remarkable if
the Medium's finger were upon the small bit of pencil at the time of the

Another slate was held by Dr. Slade on the same side of and below the
table (as far as I could judge from his arm it was nearly as low as Dr.
Slade's knee), and it was suddenly broken into many pieces, the frame
being at once held up for inspection by Dr. Slade. It did not seem to
have been broken against the table, as there was no shock felt in the
table, nor did the sound indicate it. It might have been broken by a
sudden blow upon the knee, as Dr. Slade's knees were in close proximity
to the place where the slate was held.

[The following are Notes of points which Mr. Sellers asked me
particularly to observe.--G.S.F.]

NOTE 1.--The bits of pencil placed upon the slates seemed to be used in
writing, for pieces with sharp edges were broken and put on the slates
and afterwards were found somewhat worn.

NOTE 2.--They were apparently the same pieces, as the size was the same.

NOTE 3.--The writing did not seem to have been done by drawing the slate
over a pencil at the time that the scratching was heard, for the slate
was partly in view, and though it moved somewhat, it did not then move
enough to make, for example, a line the whole length of the slate, as
was done in one instance.

NOTE 4.--The pencil was found where the writing ended, and in the case
of the line cited just above, the mark on the slate was just about as
wide as the rubbed part of the pencil. The pencil was rubbed and the end
had been flat.

NOTE 5.--I did not notice any difference in the fineness of the earlier
and later writings. The first communication began and ended with a
strong broad line.

NOTE 6.--The accordion was a small one, and I cannot say whether it
might not have been played upon with one hand if grasped in the right

NOTE 7.--In every case, what was done was done out of our sight, Dr.
Slade declaring that the object in concealing the slates, etc., was to
prevent our wills from having a negative effect upon the phenomena. My
own position opposite the Medium was a very bad one for observing what
was going on on his side of the table.

(Mr. Sellers here read, from notes taken by himself, the minutes of the
third of the series of Slade séances, as follows):

The Committee met on January 23d, 1885, at the Girard House,
Philadelphia, in Room 24.

There were present: Messrs. Thompson, Sellers and Furness, of the
Committee, and the Medium, Dr. Henry Slade.

The Medium was seated in the space between the table and the wall.
Professor Thompson occupied a chair at the side of the table to the
right, and Mr. Furness one at the side to the left of the Medium. Mr.
Sellers was seated at the side directly opposite to the Medium.

The table made use of on this occasion was much larger than the one used
at the first meeting. Attention was called to the fact that there were
no slots under the middle leaf of the table as there were in the other

Between the leaf and the centre of the table paper had been introduced
for the purpose of stuffing the crack, a rather large one, and the
explanation of the Medium was, 'This is to stop a sort of draft that
comes up through the crack and breaks the connection.' The members of
the Committee were inclined to think that the purpose was to prevent
them from observing through the crack any manipulations of the slate or
motions by the Medium under the table.

The first writing on the slate was, 'We will do all we can.'

By request of the Medium, a slate with a bit of pencil was then held by
Mr. Sellers under the table leaf next to him on his left, when the
question was put, 'Will you try to write on the slate held by the
gentleman opposite.' The response, 'We will try,' was written on the
Medium's slate. After taking the slate in his hand and cleanly wiping
it, the Medium passed it under the table leaf, when almost instantly
sounds indicating writing, such as were audible at the first session,
were repeated. Upon being exhibited the slate contained the following:

My friends,--

Paul's injunction was "add to your faith knowledge." this knowledge, has
encouraged the desponding, and given comfort to the mourner, and gives
hope to the Hopeless. I am truly

William Clark.

The appearance of this writing was much the same as that of the first
day, when another long written communication was produced, but it bore
no resemblance to the scrawls which were exhibited in answer to

A special minute is here made of observations by members of the
Committee upon certain features of the Medium's operations, which tended
to discredit the assumption of a supernatural agency in the production
of the slate writings. In the above instance a slate which had been
noted as standing against a leg of the table and behind the chair of the
Medium, but conveniently within his reach, was dexterously substituted
by the Medium for the slate taken from the table and the one upon which
ostensibly writing was to appear. This was observed by one member. In
another instance a member (Mr. Sellers) observed the same substitution,
so far as the motion of the Medium's hand and arm was concerned. By
certain private marks, adroitly applied, the same member noted the fact
that the slate on which the writing was exhibited was not, as the Medium
represented it to be, the same slate which had been taken from the

[The foregoing note by the Stenographer is somewhat incoherent, owing to
his unfamiliarity with Slade's séances; yet we prefer to let it remain
as it is.--G.S.F.]

(Mr. Sellers adds, parenthetically): That is, I watched the Medium's
operations specially with a view of informing myself whether the slate
used in both instances was the same.

(Resuming, from notes): The Medium proposed that the Committee should
retain the slate upon which the long message appeared. The slate was
accordingly retained by the Committee.

Professor Thompson (addressing Mr. Sellers): Was not that slate the one
that I held at the time referred to?

Mr. Sellers: It was. The slate was held by you at the same time that it
was held by the Medium.

Professor Thompson: Then there is an additional fact to be noted in
regard to it. That fact is this. When the sounds indicating the writing
process had ceased, I endeavored to pull the slate away from under the
table, but the Medium resisted my effort, and by powerful exertion
jerked the slate out toward himself. The substitution of one slate for
the other was probably made at this time, and the slate so substituted
was then placed on the table.

Mr. Sellers: That is true, most assuredly I saw the substitution, and
Mr. Furness also saw it very plainly. From his position Mr. Furness saw
the Medium take up the other slate.

NOTE.--An explanation was here made by Mr. Furness to the effect that
his knowledge of the substitution here spoken of was inferential, but
that at another period of the séance he did distinctly see the Medium
grasp an unused slate.

Mr. Sellers here resumed, from his notes:

The Medium then proposed to attempt the experiment of causing the chair
upon which Professor Thompson sat, to rise from the floor, without
external agency other than that of the hand of the Medium on the back of
the chair. In answer to the question, 'Will you try to lift the chair?'
the response was 'Yes.' Mr. Sellers, being requested to write a question
on the back of the slate near him, wrote the following, 'What is the
time?' After some little time, during which the Medium furtively glanced
at the slate, the answer was given, 'A little after twelve.'

Upon being requested to open his left hand and hold it thus extended in
a position beneath the top of the table to his left, Mr. Sellers
complied with the request, when a slate, which had been held by the
Medium under the opposite leaf, was passed across, and, after touching
Mr. Sellers's hand, fell to the floor. After several repetitions, the
slate was passed into Mr. Sellers's hand, but the experiment was
accompanied by a motion of the Medium which was evidently such as would
have been made if the Medium had passed the slate across by his foot.
[At his séances Dr. Slade wears slippers, into and out of which he can
readily slip his feet.--G.S.F.]

In answer to the question, 'Are you ready to lift the gentleman?' the
response, in writing, was given, 'Yes.' Clasping the back of the chair
firmly with his right hand, and approaching it close enough to enable
him to place his knee under the seat of the chair, the Medium, after
very considerable effort, caused the chair to rise from the floor an
inch or two. The physical strain on the part of the Medium was evident.

Professor Thompson, having obtained the permission of the Medium, wrote
the following upon the slate, 'Can a Spirit, still in the body, write
with a slate pencil without touching the pencil?' After some delay, and
frequent surreptitious glances at the slate by the Medium, the answer
was, 'Yes, we can tell.' This trial not being satisfactory, the same
question was repeated. The answer, which was longer delayed than the one
preceding it, was, 'We can do so, if the conditions are favorable.'

Professor Thompson (interposing): Do you remember the Medium's remarks
about the resistance of the Spirits?

Mr. Sellers: I do.

Professor Thompson: When he was pushing and pulling the slate, and
meanwhile looking at it--while moving it backward and forward--the
Medium remarked, 'There seems to be some kind of resistance; they don't
seem to know what to make of it'--meaning that the Spirits were making
some resistance to his moving the slate.

Mr. Sellers here resumed and completed the reading of his minutes, as

The experiment attempted on the second day, of causing a slate pencil to
jump from a slate without any disturbance of the slate, was here
repeated. A line was drawn upon the slate, and upon this line a small
bit of pencil was placed, the success of the experiment depending upon
this small piece remaining immovable upon the line. After several trials
this was accomplished. The experiment of playing an accordion beneath
the table was next made, and in one instance the top of the instrument
was thrown upon the table.

Mr. Sellers verbally made the following addition to his minutes:

The response to the question propounded by Professor Thompson was
attended with more than ordinary delay. Upon hearing the response, viz.:
'We can do so if the conditions are favorable,' Professor Thompson
remarked that this did not answer the question at all.

Professor Thompson: I made that statement in regard to both of the

Mr. Sellers: The statement, then, was, that neither of the responses
answered the question. Whereupon the Medium at once obliterated the
question from the slate, and remarked, 'Well, that is the best they can
do,' or something of that kind, or, 'They cannot understand that.' The
fact was that the Medium did not understand the question himself, as it
was purposely a somewhat involved question.

Professor Thompson: The fact appears to have been demonstrated that the
Medium seemed to have no difficulty in catching the purport of questions
of simple construction at a glance, and that a question of more than
average length, which he could not perceive the sense of, or which was
somewhat misleading in its terms, was not answered intelligently.

Professor Thompson here further explained that, when writing the
question spoken of, he concealed his hand from the observation of the
Medium. Mr. Sellers here imitated the motions of the body of the Medium
and the position of his hands at the time--the left resting on the
table, and the right hand beneath the table, near the slate--after which
the writing was displayed.

Mr. Sellers next presented the minutes of the meeting of January 24th,
as follows:

The Committee met on January 24th, 1885, at the Girard House,
Philadelphia, in Room 24.

There were present: Dr. Leidy, Mr. H.H. Furness and Mr. Coleman Sellers,
with the Medium, Dr. Henry Slade. Dr. Leidy occupied the position
previously held by Professor Thompson, to the right of the Medium;
Messrs. Sellers and Furness were seated as at the former sittings.

Slates were produced and held as at the previous séances. Upon one slate
the following interrogatories and responses were recorded:

'Spirits, are you ready to work?' Answer: 'Soon,'

'Will you write for the gentlemen?' Answer: 'We are trying to do so.'

At this point the Medium substituted another slate for the one which he
had held in his hand, and almost immediately thereafter, upon the new
slate being placed under the table, the sound of writing began and was
carried on with little interruption. The writing continued for a very
long time, during which the Medium, removing his hand from the hands of
the other gentlemen, said, 'You see that if I take my hand away from the
circle and thus break the circle, the sound of the writing ceases; if I
place my hand back again, the writing is repeated.' The sound of the
writing, which had been temporarily suspended, recommenced when the hand
of the Medium returned to its former position. The Medium further
stated, by way of qualifying his statement on this point, 'If I do not
jerk it away I can raise my hand a little.' He illustrated his meaning
by slightly elevating his hand and withdrawing it from the other hands,
at the same time calling attention to the fact that the sounds of the
writing on the slate were continued.

This modification by the Medium of his original statement was regarded
as intended to cover instances in which the circle had been
surreptitiously broken by members of the Committee without any of the
results which, had been predicted. Several such breaks had been made by
the writer (Mr. Sellers) unknown to any one but himself; and the Medium,
finally becoming aware of this fact, observed that the circle might
frequently be broken a little without any effect being apparent.

Professor Thompson: But did not the Medium make that statement at the
very first séance?

Mr. Sellers: He stated that at the first séance.

(Resuming, from notes): The communication inscribed upon the slate when
beneath the table was in the same handwriting as the other long
communications, and was evidently written with a sharpened pencil under
favorable conditions. It was as follows:

'My friends:

I have been made happy by the advent of my dear wife into this land of
souls. The name of my dear wife is Ann Louisa Tiers, of Germantown. Now
we shall part no more by death, as there is no death in this life.

My friends, never grieve because your friends meet the change called
death, as death is but the blooming of the soul.

I am

John Tiers.'

Mr. Sellers, in reply to an inquiry by Dr. Leidy concerning the identity
of the alleged author of the communication, here explained that a
newspaper advertisement of even date set forth that Ann Louisa Tiers,
widow of John Tiers, died on the day preceding the day of the meeting.
The advertisement had been noticed by Mr. Furness, and it appeared to
furnish the foundation for what had been imposed upon the Committee.

The slate used at the meeting here referred to was one which Mr. Furness
saw substituted, and which the writer (Mr. Sellers) is confident was

Dr. Leidy here stated that the communication now referred to, unlike all
the other communications of the Medium, which were miserable little
scrawls of a few words, was a lengthy one, which covered the entire
slate. He felt convinced that the slate upon which it was contained was
substituted for the other one which the Medium ostensibly continued to

Mr. Sellers (resuming the reading of his minutes): Dr. Leidy then wrote
on the slate the following question, 'Dr. Le Conte--are you engaged now
in the study of Coleoptera?' The slate was then placed below the table,
and, after the Medium had been observed to glance at it repeatedly, as
in the case of former exhibitions of this kind, the slate was finally
reproduced with this answer written upon it, 'Dr. L.C. is not present.'

Then the experiment was repeated of drawing a line, laying a bit of
pencil on the line and then a pencil on the edge of the slate.

The pencil on the edge of the slate was tossed violently over the table,
passed over and fell on the other side of the table, while the piece of
pencil on the mark was not disturbed.

Dr. Leidy: It should be borne in mind that that throw was not from under
the table, because when the pencil went over, the slate appeared on the
outside of the table. I sat near the Medium and saw that slate brought
out as the pencil went up.

Professor Thompson: The Medium claimed that sometimes the pencil
appeared on the side of the table opposite to that at which he was
sitting, but no such thing occurred in our presence. Would not it be
advisable, when you say it was thrown up, to add that it was thrown from
the side at which the Medium was sitting?

Mr. Sellers: In each and every case.

Dr. Leidy (to Mr. Sellers): When the Medium gave you and me a slate to
hold, he said the Spirits would make a communication. We held the slate
away from him and there was not at any time a communication.

(Mr. Sellers here resumed, from his notes): The same experiment of
jerking the pencil over the table was repeated with another pencil.
Then, at the suggestion of one of the gentlemen present, the Medium
repeated the experiment made at a former session, in which a long line
was drawn on the slate while the slate was apparently held without any
motion. The Medium then took one of the slates in his hand and placed it
below the table, when it was suddenly broken. As he produced it, he
called attention to the fact that the slate seemed as if broken from the
top downwards. As he brought it out, the Medium turned the slate over
and knocked it on his knee, and in that way crushed it to pieces. He
then turned it over to show on which side the crushing took place. I saw
that as plainly as I saw anything. He then used a pencil and drew a
zig-zag line across the slate. The pencil was worn at one end. The same
experiment, which was made when Professor Fullerton was present, was
repeated, and it was noticed that the pencil used in drawing the line
was the identical one found on the slate.

Dr. Leidy: In that part of the exhibition which purported to show how,
through Spiritual influence, a slate pencil might remain in contact with
a slate, the Medium took care not to elevate the slate to an angle of
forty-five degrees. He merely raised it to the elevation which I now
indicate. If he had elevated it a little more the pencil would have
fallen off.

Mr. Sellers (resuming): An accordion was then played under the
manipulations of the Medium, after which that gentleman told the writer
that he might look under the table and witness the performance of the
instrument. The writer availed himself of this permission, but, upon his
looking below the table, the musical sound ceased, and no such sounds
were heard during the period in which these observations were continued.
The Medium remarked, "That is unaccountable; there is no reason why you
should not see it." Nevertheless, the accordion did not produce any
sound while the writer was looking at it.

Professor Thompson: There is one point which was suggested at an earlier
stage of the minutes, and which is, perhaps, worthy of being recorded.
It is this. At the time at which the slate was passed to the hand of Mr.
Sellers, under the table, the Medium compelled me to sit around in a
position different from that which I had occupied, in order that, in his
operations, he could move his arms and lower extremities as freely as he

Dr. Leidy: My own supposition is that, when he played the accordion
freely, the Medium made use of a little wire attached to a hook or
something of that kind, which he could hold by fastening it to his

Mr. Sellers: His method of manipulating the instrument was readily
observable upon close attention. The accordion was a small one of the
kind which is easily procurable in the market.

(Resuming, from notes): The next meeting of the Committee, which was
held on January 26th, at the Girard House, was an exceedingly important
one, because its result was absolutely negative. There were present,
with the Medium, Professor Thompson, Mr. Furness and Mr. Sellers. Two
slates were lying on the table behind him. The Medium brought forward
one of these, wiped it, laid a pencil on it, and placed it under the
table, but without any result. He said, "We must make a circle--that
will have better effect." He laid the slate back upon the table. We then
joined hands, and, after a time, thinking that there was magnetic
influence enough at work, the Medium reached back and took the second
slate--not the first one--brought that forward and put it under the
table. Mr. Sellers asked the Medium, "Dr. Slade, will you allow me to
see that slate?" The reply was, "No, not now; the conditions are not
favorable." The Medium seemed rather embarrassed, and apparently
regretted his reply. He laid the second slate back upon the table, in
its former position, but further back. We then again formed a circle,
when he seemed to hesitate a moment as to the better course for him to
pursue. He then reached back, grasped the first slate, and with a sponge
washed off both of its sides, though there had been no writing upon
either; and then he brought forward the second slate, with the top side
upward, and washed that side, though there was no occasion for the
washing, as there was no writing upon that side. Turning the slate over,
he began washing the back of it without showing the face of the slate,
and finally laid it down.

Mr. Furness here stated that he observed, at the time, that the face of
the slate contained writing.

Professor Thompson here remarked that the Medium had evidently
appreciated the fact that he had been caught.

Mr. Sellers: That fact was plainly apparent.

Mr. Fullerton here remarked that at the séance reported by him, soon
after the members were seated, the Medium reached behind his (the
Medium's) position to get one of the slates placed near him, and
accidentally turned up one, the back of which was covered with writing,
whereupon he coolly remarked, 'That is the wrong slate.' Mr. Fullerton
added that he did not at the time think of connecting this accidental
exposure with what the Medium was then doing, and suggested that
possibly this exposure prevented Dr. Slade's use of this method at the
séance reported by him, as it would seem that none of the communications
produced on that occasion were of the sort produced by substitution of

Mr. Sellers: The methods of this Medium's operations appear to me to be
perfectly transparent, and I wish to say emphatically that I am
astonished beyond expression at the confidence of this man in his
ability to deceive, and at the recklessness of the risks which he
assumes in his deceptions, which are practiced in the most barefaced
manner. The only reason of our having any so-called 'manifestations'
under the circumstances was because of the fact that the Committee had
agreed in advance to be entirely passive, and to acquiesce in every
condition imposed. At the meeting here spoken of, I said to Dr. Slade,
'You see that we do not attempt to exercise any deleterious influence;
what we want is the truth, the simple truth, and we try to exert no
influence which would tend to impair the success of your operations.'
The reply of the Medium was, 'No, I know that you do not; but sometimes
the Spirits will work and sometimes they will not work.' We had no
writings in any part of that sitting--everything failed.

Mr. Furness: We did not have even raps.

Mr. Sellers: We did not have even raps. There was no sound of any
character; the day was absolutely fruitless of any result. Disgusted
with this evident failure, the Medium decided to close the séance. He
was asked, among other things, if he would write on double closed-up
slates. He replied that he would not write upon them for the reason that
the Spirits had forbidden him to do so; that they had said they would
not write on sealed slates, because many tricks had been played on them,
one of which was the writing in advance of foolish and obscene matter,
which, when the slates were opened, was attributed to the Spirits. I
said to him, 'Would there be any objection by the Spirits to the use of
the slates if these are brought here, opened and exhibited before you
prior to their being used?' He replied, 'I have been forbidden to write
upon sealed slates; the Spirits tell me that if I disobey them they will
not write for me any more.'

Professor Thompson: Yes, I heard that statement, that it was forbidden
to bring them or to offer the sealed slates to the Spirits.

Mr. Sellers (resuming from notes): As I have stated, the result of the
meeting of the 26th inst. was entirely negative. That on the 27th was
the last sitting. There were then present: Dr. Pepper, Mr. Furness and
Mr. Sellers--Dr. Pepper occupying the seat originally occupied by
Professor Thompson, to the right of the Medium. All the manifestations
that were made on that day were so similar, as far as writings and
questions were concerned, to those that preceded them that it is
scarcely necessary to make notes of them. Two or three rather remarkable
things occurred. For instance, almost at the beginning of the sitting,
Dr. Slade exhibited both sides of two slates to show that neither side
contained any writing, and then placed a piece of pencil on one slate,
and, covering it with the other one, held the two together between the
thumb and finger of his right hand, and placed them upon Dr. Pepper's
shoulder near the back of that gentleman's head. The covering of slate
answered the same purpose which a table would have answered, and
prevented those present from observing the operation. He frequently
repeated the words, 'The Spirits will write upon the slate.' He held the
slate in this position for some time, but there was no writing upon it.
He then placed both slates upon the table before him, side by side.
Taking in his right hand the slate which was towards his left hand, he
placed a bit of pencil upon it, held it under the table, and said, 'Will
the Spirits write upon this slate?' He then added, 'I feel a sort of
drawing, a something which seems to pull the slate down underneath the
table. That often occurs.'

I may here remark that, at the other sittings, the same expression was
made use of at times, accompanied by the thrusting of the slate some
distance under the table. The statement was that the slate seemed to be
drawn some distance over to the person opposite the Medium.

A sound was heard, and upon the Medium bringing the slate out from under
the table, a zig-zag line appeared upon the slate with the pencil at the
end of the line. The Medium remarked, 'That is something.' Then laying
the slate upon the slate to his right hand, with a sponge wiped off the
top of it, but did not show what was on the underside of it. He then
placed his thumb beneath the slates, and turned them in such a way that
the left hand, or top slate, came to be the one furthest from him as it
was held behind Dr. Pepper's head. When holding it in that position for
a moment, a scratching sound was heard in answer to the question, 'Will
the Spirits endeavor to write on the slate thus held?' A rap followed
the sound of the writing. The slates were then taken down, and the top
slate taken off. Upon what had previously been the top slate was written
the words, 'Yes, we will try.'

Mr. Furness (interposing): That was one of the neatest things he did.

Mr. Sellers: My habits of observation have been trained in this kind of
work, and I watched the slates intently during the process.

Subsequently certain raps were audible, when the Medium called the
attention of Dr. Pepper to the fact that some of the raps were made upon
the chair on which the Doctor was seated. It was very evident that the
raps were, in fact, made on that chair; there was no doubt about that at

Throughout this entire sitting the Medium complained sadly of his
physical disability. He said that he was afraid that he was going to
lose the power of his right side, that he was becoming numb all over.
The peculiar symptoms which he described will be reported upon in the
observations of Dr. Pepper, by whom they were noted.

(Mr. Furness here stated that the notes of Dr. Pepper would be read
later in the evening.)

Mr. Sellers (continuing): The Medium did very little more in the way of
writing. He repeated some few of the experiments previously made, such
as the throwing off of the pencil. He declined to play upon the
accordion, as the instrument had been broken.

At this meeting two pocket compasses, one brought by Mr. Furness and the
other by Mr. Sellers, were placed at a point near the circle of the
hands in order to observe whether any deflection from the magnetic
course occurred. No such result was noted. No change whatsoever in the
needles was observed other than that which was caused by a vibration due
to shakings of the table. From time to time the Medium would call
attention to one of the needles with the remark, 'There, one of those
needles is moving now.' In point of fact, the needle at the time would
show no motion other than that caused by the jarring of the table. The
Medium went on to say that frequently, under like circumstances, when
placed close together, he had seen two needles point around in opposite
directions. This might have been true, in the present instance, if the
Medium had placed a magnet attached to his foot at a point at which it
would have been between the two needles. Its effect would have been just
the one which he has described. No such result was noticeable during our

A large part of the sitting was devoted to the discussion of the
Zoellner experiments, the Medium narrating some of the phenomena that
had been witnessed in the presence of Dr. Zoellner. He said, however,
that Zoellner was a peculiarly impressible person, and one who had
entire confidence in his (the Medium's) ability.

Before the conclusion of the séance, the writer (Mr. Sellers) asked the
Medium if he was acquainted with the methods of operation of any
conjurors. The Medium replied that he did not know many of them, but he
always liked to have conjurors at his sittings, as they produced a very
good influence upon him. At this point the following colloquy ensued:

Mr. Sellers: Do you know a man named Kellar, who is exhibiting in this

Dr. Slade: I do not. I never knew him.

Mr. Sellers: You may, however, be able to explain to me a very
remarkable slate-writing experiment which Kellar has performed. I will
state the details of it. [Mr. Sellers here described at length Mr.
Kellar's trick with the fastened slates, and in concluding, asked:] How
did Mr. Kellar do that?

Dr. Slade: He is a Medium. He does that work precisely as I do it.

Mr. Sellers: But can he not do it by trickery?

Dr. Slade: No it is impossible. He is a Medium, and a powerful Medium.

(Mr. Sellers continued the reading of his transcript, as follows):

Then I described to the Medium an experiment by Kellar in lifting a
table ostensibly merely by laying his hands upon it, and I detailed his
explanation of how deceptions might occur, his custom of pulling up his
sleeves and exhibiting his hands to the audience. I added, that he had
done the same thing with a chair.

Dr. Slade: I do that thing, too. I will show you how I do it the next
time. He does it as I do it. He is a Medium.

(Mr. Sellers here paused to make the following verbal explanation):

I pause here for the express purpose of having the fact noted that,
being thoroughly familiar with the details of the methods of these
experiments, I can positively assure the Committee that there is no
Mediumistic power in Mr. Kellar, so far as his methods are concerned,
that those methods are as easy of solution as are any other physical

(Resuming, from notes):

The inquiry was then addressed to Dr. Slade, 'Do you know a man named
Guernella who, with his wife, gave séances?' 'Yes,' he replied, 'I know
him very well.' 'Well, how does he perform his wonderful exploits in
rappings, etc.?' 'He is a Medium, a powerful Medium. I know him very
well indeed. I can assure you that all that he does is done solely by
means of his Mediumistic powers.'

I now state to the Committee that the Guernellas exhibited in
Philadelphia some years ago as exposers of Spiritualism. They did not
expose it, but they performed experiments which, prior to that time,
were said to have been accomplished by the aid of Spirits. Guernella
himself, at my house, in my presence, in broad daylight, performed all
the feats and exhibited the phenomena that were produced at the dark and
other séances, and he repeated them until I myself became as expert as
he in performing them; for which I paid him a consideration. So much for
the Mediumistic power.

(Resuming, from notes):

Before the close of this last séance, a letter was read to Dr. Slade by
Mr. Furness, to which the Medium was requested to make reply at his
convenience; the object was to preserve evidence of the fact that the
Medium had stated that all the séances must be held under his
conditions--that if the Committee deviated in the slightest
degree from the conditions imposed by him (Dr. Slade) he would 'pack up
his traps and clear out.' [The letter and reply will be found annexed to
this Record.]

At the end of this séance, the sum agreed upon, three hundred dollars,
was paid to the Medium in three one-hundred-dollar bills. He was asked
to sign a receipt for that amount, but his nervousness was such as to
make this a task of some difficulty. He made many attempts to grasp the
pen presented to him, but his hand shrank from it. At last, by a violent
effort, and conquering the emotions that overcame him, the Medium
grasped the pen and wrote the receipt. The extreme trepidation of Dr.
Slade was possibly due to the unexpected displacement of two covered
slates which he had left standing on the floor, resting against the leg
of the small table at his back, and which Mr. Furness had overturned
with his foot, the result being that at least two of the members of the
Committee were apprised, by the quantity of writing on one of the
slates, that it was ready for immediate use.

Mr. Sellers (aside): I saw the writing on the slates. It had manifestly
been prepared for use by the Medium, and up to the moment of its
discovery had been carefully kept completely covered.

Mr. Furness here read to the Committee the following:

Before Dr. Slade came to Philadelphia to meet this Commission, I was
told by a valued Correspondent, an eminent Spiritualist, that much of
Dr. Slade's success in Spiritual manifestations would depend on the way
in which he was treated, and that he should be met in a cordial,
friendly spirit. As this was but natural, and as Dr. Slade's life has
been passed among extraordinary scenes the world over, which makes him
an entertaining companion, it gave me pleasure to extend to him what
little courtesies lay in my power, asking him to dine with me during his
visit, and to spend the evenings at my house, if the time hung heavy on
his hands at his hotel. He dined with me several times, and I
consequently saw more of him than did the other Commissioners. I told
him more than once that, as a Commissioner, I should watch him with lynx
eyes, and he always gave a laughing assent. I furthermore never
concealed from him that he had, by no means, converted me to
Spiritualism. [I last saw him in Boston, when, as I was passing along
Shawmut Avenue, I caught sight of him at a window; he eagerly beckoned
me to come in, and, as I settled myself in a chair, I said to him,
'Well, and how are the old Spirits coming on?' Whereupon he laughed and
replied, 'Oh, pshaw! you never believed in them, did you?'--April,

I had several séances with him in afternoons after the séances with the
Commission, when I was accompanied by my mother, my sister, and by
several friends; of course, only by one or two others at a time.

It would be superfluous to rehearse here at length what Mr. Sellers has
set before you much better than I can, the steps to the conclusion to
which we all arrived: that the long messages were written beforehand.
The difference between them and the short answers to questions asked at
the séance, in the character of the handwriting, is too manifest and too
obtrusively patent to be disregarded. In the long message from 'William
Clark' on the slate which we have preserved and had photographed,
'Paul's injunction' is carefully included within quotation marks. The
short answers to questions were scarcely legible, and at times could be
deciphered only by help of the Medium himself. (This illegible
handwriting is not without its use; it engrosses the attention of the

It follows, therefore, that, if prepared slates are to be used, they
must be adroitly substituted for others, which the sitters know to be
clean. The question is thus narrowed to one of pure legerdemain, and the
Medium must necessarily have several slates at hand.

When two slates only are used, the prepared slate is usually lying on
the table when the sitters take their seats. No attention is called to
it, and some little time is taken in conversation, and in the spasmodic
jerking caused by 'electric currents'; in a few minutes the slate pencil
is placed on the slate; no offer is made of showing both sides, which
would be quite needless, since the side which is exposed is perfectly
clean, and it is on that side which the Spirits are expected to write;
the slate is kept almost constantly and wholly in full view and but very
slightly inserted beneath the table. After an interval of waiting,
during which, by constantly looking at the slate as though impatient for
the writing to begin, whereby his sitters become accustomed to the
appearance and disappearance of the slate, the Medium reaches for a
second slate, ostentatiously washes both sides, lays it on the table,
removes the pencil from the first slate to the second, and places over
it the first slate with its prepared message, face downward, and the
trick is done. The two slates are held for a minute under the table, and
are then held to the ear or on the shoulder of the sitter on the
Medium's right hand--never to any other sitter, since to do so would
reveal the scratching of the Medium's finger-nail on the rim of the
slate, whereby the writing of the pencil within the slates is
counterfeited. I have distinctly, three or four times, watched the
motion of the Medium's finger while thus scratching; as I sat facing the
window the fingers which held the slate and made the fictitious writing
were sharply outlined against the light. And here let me say that he who
sits on the Medium's left hand, the side to which he turns almost his
full back, has the best position for observation. He told me many times
that he did not like to have three sitters, but much preferred only two;
at the third side, when unoccupied, wonderful manifestations occur,
such as a chair's elevation, or being thrown down, or the appearance of
the unsupported slate, etc. These manifestations are executed by the
Medium's foot, and lest its motions under the table should be detected,
the longitudinal cracks where the two table-leaves join, were carefully
stuffed with paper, although, to be sure, he once explained to me the
presence of this paper as necessary to keep 'the electricity from
flowing through.'

Although Dr. Slade had agreed verbally in New York that the last séance
of the series should be in the presence of all the Commission, he flatly
refused, when in Philadelphia, to hold any in the presence of more than
three at a time.

On one occasion, when the Medium was very sure of his sitters, he placed
the prepared slate, face downwards, on the table, with his fingers
resting on the upper surface, then in a few minutes the slate was lifted
up and the writing displayed, as though just made by Spiritual agency.
Generally, however, when the writing is thus exhibited, it is in answer
to a spoken question, and the reply is written by the Medium in his lap
and the slate turned over before it is placed on the table. Manifestly
it cannot occur as an answer to a written question, unless the written
question is exposed on the upper side of the slate.

How the scratching of the slate pencil is produced when the slate is
lying on the table (I have been told that the sound is heard then) I
cannot possibly explain, for the plain reason that I am too deaf to hear
it, and I was, therefore, never on the watch for anything unusual. (Nor
did I ever hear the sound of writing when the slate was held on the
shoulder of my opposite neighbor, but I could see, and I knew what was
going on, for the slate had once been placed on my own shoulder.)

When three slates are used, the third, and prepared, slate, is either on
the little table behind him or on the floor resting against the supports
of this little table. In either case he seizes the opportunity when his
sitters are engrossed with an answer just given to a question, to
substitute one of the slates which he has been using, and which he has
just before ostentatiously washed on both sides, for the prepared slate.
This I have distinctly seen him do twice, and once when I had arisen
from my seat to read an answer on the slate, held by Mr. Sellers, I
noticed when I resumed my seat that a certain slate which I had been
watching was gone from where it had been resting against the leg of the
little table, and we then immediately had the long message between
closed slates. [This was the 'inferential' substitution referred to on
page 59 of this Appendix.] The slate which we have preserved and had
photographed I saw him take from the table at his back.

Next, as to his answers to questions. I became so familiar with his
methods in this department that I could have told at almost any instant
what he was doing.

After the question has been written the slate is handed to him face
downward. A piece of pencil is then placed on the slate near the edge of
the slate farthest from the Medium's hand as it holds the slate; of
course, as the writing is to be done under cover of the table, and as
the Medium's hand or wrist is supposed to be always visible, the pencil
must be far under the table. The awkwardness, therefore, must be
overcome of having to reach or grope after it before the slate can be
turned over, which it must be in order to enable the Medium to read the
question on the under side. This difficulty is surmounted by constantly
bringing out the slate and looking at it to see if any answer has
appeared. By this manoeuvre a double end is attained; first, it creates
an atmosphere of expectation, and the sitters grow accustomed to a good
deal of motion in the arm that holds the slate; and secondly, by
constantly moving the slate the fragment of pencil (which, be it noted,
having been extracted from those slate pencils which are enclosed in
wood, like lead pencils, is square in shape and remains stationary on
the spot to which it is moved), this pencil, I repeat, is moved up to
the side of the slate within reach of a thumb and finger; when this is
done, it is dexterously seized by the Medium, who is in turn at that
instant seized by violent 'electric shocks,' under cover of which the
slate is turned and generally placed between his knees, only once I
think did he rest it _on_ his knee, and once I think he pressed it
against the table; then he reads the question. And here he shows his
nerve. It is the critical instant of the sitting, it is the only instant
when his eyes are not fastened on his sitters, and I confess that his
coolness won my admiration. On one occasion, when the question was
written in a back-hand with a very light stroke and close to the upper
edge of the slate, he looked at it three several times before he could
read it. Moreover, it was a question out of the common, relating to the
species of a hawk and not to a Spirit, and required an intelligent and
definite answer. The hastiness of his reading may be inferred by the
frequency with which merely the initials of the Spirit friend are given
in the answer. After reading the question, I noticed that Dr. Slade
winks rapidly three or four times in a sort of mental abstraction, I
suppose, while thinking out an answer, but he always breathes freer when
this crisis is passed, and the violent convulsions are over, which
attend his hurried writing and the re-turning of the slate. His eyes can
now be fixed in turn on each of his sitters, and he can rest a minute or
two. (One one occasion I saw the slate as he held it between his index
and second finger, his index-finger and thumb held the slate pencil.)
Presently, the slate is held near to the edge of the table, and a
tremulous motion is given to it as though the writing were then going

On one occasion, when I knew he was about to use the prepared slate
(Professor Thompson will remember what I am about to relate), I
suggested that we should use a perfectly fresh pencil, so that we could
be sure that that very pencil had done the writing. I was very curious
to know how he would evade the test. The slate was held close to the
under side of the table (the new pencil debarred him from using the
double slate); when the writing was finished the slate was slapped
violently against the table, and was drawn from underneath
it--apparently with very great difficulty, and almost
perpendicularly--and the little pencil, of course, slipped off, and in
the excitement of reading the message from the 'Summer-land,' who would
think of looking for the pencil? It was so clever I wanted to applaud
him on the spot.

The other tricks, such as tossing the pencil from the slate and playing
the accordion, can be perfectly explained and repeated by Mr. Sellers.
Dr. Slade's fingers are unusually long and strong, and the accordion,
which has but four bellows-folds, can be readily manipulated with one

At our last séance I noticed what were evidently two prepared slates
resting against the support of the table behind him, where his prepared
slates usually stood. I inferred that he would like to have some
extraordinary slate writing on this occasion, and, therefore, kept a
sharp watch on these slates. Unfortunately it was too sharp, for one
second the Medium saw me looking at them. It was enough. That detected
look prevented the revelation of those elaborate Spirit messages. But
when the séance was over and he was signing the receipt for his money, I
passed round behind his chair and pushed these slates with my foot so as
to make them fall over, whereupon the writing on one of them was
distinctly revealed.

I think Dr. Pepper and Mr. Sellers will recall how the Medium instantly
pushed his chair back until it was fairly over the slates and then
snatched them up, and in the most hurried manner washed them both while
turning his back to us.

Two compasses, which we placed on the table during our séance, remained
unaffected by the Medium's presence.

During one sitting, when the Spirits conveyed the slates from the
Medium's hand under the table to the hand of the opposite sitter, the
latter failed twice to grasp the slate in time, and it fell to the
floor with a crash. Each time it behoved me to pick up the slate (both
the other sitters were women), but the second time I stooped with the
greatest alacrity and looked not at the slate but at the Medium's foot,
which I saw just entering his slipper, into which it most hastily

I think Dr. Slade's personal appearance noteworthy, and shall endeavor
to obtain a photograph of him for preservation in our Records. He is
probably six feet in height, with a figure of unusual symmetry, his
hands are large but shapely, the nail of the second finger of his right
hand is rather longer than the others, and appeared in the centre to be
slightly split and worn. His face would, I think, attract notice
anywhere for its uncommon beauty. He has a small, curling, dark
moustache, and short, crisp, iron-grey hair, of a texture exceeding in
fineness any that I have ever seen on a man's head. His eyes are dark,
and the circles around them very dark, but their expression is painful.
I could not divest myself of the feeling that it was that of a hunted
animal or of a haunted man. The color on his cheeks is very bright, but
it is said to be artificial. He complained bitterly of ill-health and of
water around his heart, which he said at times he could hear and feel
"swashing about."

A noteworthy man in every aspect.

Mr. Furness then read to the Committee the following:

Memorandum by Dr. Wm. Pepper of an interview with Dr. Slade on the
morning of the 27th January, with Mr. Furness and Mr. Sellers.

1811 Spruce Street, Philadelphia.

He complained immediately and very frequently of his right side, saying
it felt weak and numb, and he was sure he was going to be paralyzed.
Careful observation showed that the right side was fully developed, the
color of the right hand normal and the same as that of the left, and
that the right arm, foot and leg were unusually supple and moveable.
During the sitting I saw him deliberately kick my chair three (3) times
with the side of his right foot, while attracting my attention to the
scraping noises of the slate he was holding to my left ear; and again,
when soft raps were heard and felt under the table, just beneath one of
my hands, and at about the distance from him to which his leg would
reach, I saw distinct movements of rotation of his thigh, as though he
were producing these sounds by the ball of the toe striking under the
table at that point.

_February 6th_, 1885.

Mr. Sellers offered the following resolution, which was adopted

_Resolved_, That the reports of the Slade séances held in Philadelphia,
as described by Messrs. Fullerton, Furness, Pepper and Sellers, are in
accordance with the observations of each of the members of the
Commission who were present.

After a short Business Meeting the Commission adjourned.



       *       *       *       *       *

The following correspondence explains itself:

PHILADELPHIA, January 26th, 1885.

DEAR DR. SLADE:--I think you need no assurance that the Seybert
Investigating Committee have been anxious to deal with you in the
fairest spirit of impartial, unbiased, scientific investigation, and I
think you will bear witness to their uniformly considerate courtesy
throughout our intercourse.

You know how very deaf I am, and do not therefore need to be reminded
that one should trust scarcely more to what a deaf man hears than to
what a blind man sees.

Wherefore, I want you, for my sake, and that the Committee may feel sure
of their ground, to confirm in writing what you have more than once said
to me, namely, that the Committee must conform to the conditions which
the Spirits impose; that you cannot consent to submit to any tests, and
that rather than do so you will return at once to New York; that we must
accept the manifestations as given by the Spirits; and that, since these
manifestations are the result of a gradual growth, it is impossible, in
the space of six séances, to repeat or to verify Professor Zoellner's
experiments; and, lastly, that, if on your return to New York, the
Spirits so authorize it, you will be willing, if desired, to make
arrangements for another series of séances with us of a higher order of

I remain respectfully,

Your obedient servant,


_Acting Chairman Seybert Commission_.

No. 11 E. 13th Street, N.Y., February 4th, 1885.

DEAR MR. FURNESS:--I take this opportunity to express to you, and
through you to the other members of the Seybert Commission, my hearty
approval of the course pursued by them in their investigation of
phenomena occurring in my presence. Fully realizing that I am only the
instrument or channel through which these manifestations are produced,
it would be presumption on my part to undertake to lay down a line to be
followed by the unseen intelligences, whose servant I am. Hence, I did
say their conditions must be acceded to or I would return to New York.
That they did so, is evident to my mind from the results obtained, which
I regard as a necessary preliminary to a continuation, when other
experiments may be introduced with better prospects of success. It may
be well not to insist on following the exact course pursued by Professor
Zoellner, but leave it open to original or impromptu suggestions that
may be adopted without previous consideration, which, if successful,
would be of equal value as evidence of its genuineness, at the same time
give greater breadth to the experiments. In conclusion, allow me to say
that in the event of the Committee desiring to continue these
experiments through another series of sittings with me, it will give me
pleasure to enter into arrangements for that purpose.

Very truly yours,


       *       *       *       *       *

February 13th, 1885.

On February 13th, 1885, Mr. Furness, Professor Thompson and Mr.
Fullerton, on the part of the Commission, met Mr. Harry Kellar, a
professional conjurer, at Egyptian Hall.

The men seated themselves at a common pine table, 5 ft. x 3 ft., with

Mr. Kellar sat at one side of the table, Mr. Furness at one end to his
left, Professor Thompson at one corner to Mr. Furness's left, and Mr.
Fullerton opposite Mr. Kellar. The end of the table to Mr. Kellar's
right was unoccupied.

Nine slates were found lying on a small stand about six feet from the

These slates were washed one by one on the stand, and laid in a pile on
the table at Mr. Kellar's right.

A slate was taken from the pile, both sides washed, another slate
placed upon it, and both held together under the edge of the table. A
long communication appeared upon one of them (or what seemed to be one
of them), purporting to come from the Spirits.

Two more slates were taken and apparently both sides washed. One was
placed on the other and both laid upon the table in front of Professor
Thompson, one end of the slates being held by him and the other by Mr.
Kellar. When the upper slate was removed the under side of it was
covered with writing.

Professor Thompson then changed his position to that which he held when
with Dr. Slade--to the end of the table opposite Mr. Furness, and to Mr.
Kellar's right.

Writing was produced in similar manner on two other slates without the
Committee detecting the manner in which it was produced.

One of these slates was covered on both sides with the following
messages: On voyage tout éveillé dans le royaume des rêves et des
illusions; l'esprit se refuse à admettre les merveilles executées dans
une salle éclairé devant un public incrédule qui cherche à s'expliquer
les trucs employés à deviner les--

Kellar huye del espiritismo porque ya pasó la época de ella, y solo dá
el ejercicio carácter de prestidigitacion.

Het blyfft onbegrypelyk hoe de heer Kellar die door twee personen uit
het publiek stevigwordt vast gebonden, zich in een oogwenk wist los te

[Here follow, in eight lines, sentences for which we have no types, in
Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and Gujerati. This remarkable feat closes
with the following in German script:] Ich bin ein Geist und ich liebe
mein Lagerbier--Hans Schneider.

Von Moltke.

One slate was broken in a similar way to that broken by Dr. Slade.

Professor Thompson was asked to write a question, which he did while the
side of the slate on which he wrote was turned away from Mr. Kellar. The
slate was not turned over, the written question remaining on the under
side, and it was held at the usual place under the table, Mr. Kellar's
thumb remaining above the table in full view, while the fingers held the
slate up under the table.

A moment after the placing of the slate under the table, it was
withdrawn to admit of a small pencil being placed upon it, Mr. Furness
having remarked the absence of the pencil.

The slate was not otherwise withdrawn from under the table above two
inches until its final withdrawal, and the question was always,
seemingly, on the under side.

When the slate was brought out a communication was found upon it in
answer to Professor Thompson's question.

The answer was on the upper side of the slate. [April, 1887: Mr. Kellar
afterwards revealed his methods to our colleague, Mr. Furness.]



       *       *       *       *       *

February 19th, 1885.

The Commission met on Thursday, February 19th, 1885, at 8 P.M., at the
house of Mr. Furness, to attend a séance in the presence of Mrs. Maud E.

All of the Commission were present, and there were present also, at the
request of the Medium, several friends of members of the Commission,
both men and women.

There were in all eighteen persons present beside the Medium; these
seated themselves, as directed by the Medium, in a circle, which was
about six or seven feet in diameter; the Medium took her seat in the

The lights having been put out, the Medium drew her chair to one side of
the circle, placing her feet in contact with those of one of the persons
in the circle. Those composing the circle linked hands, while the Medium
had her hands free.

The Medium described a number of Spirit forms as coming to those
present--to one a little child, to another an old man with white hair,
etc. The descriptions were in general vague and indefinite, and might
have applied to many persons. Nevertheless, they were in very many cases
wide of the mark. Sometimes a father, a mother, or other relation was
described as present. In some cases the death of such relations was
acknowledged by the person to whom the Medium addressed herself, but in
other cases the relation in question had not died, or, as in the case of
a child or brother--had not existed. To give an instance of the Medium's
inaccuracy: Mr. Fullerton's grandfather was described as coming to him,
and the Medium, describing the form, added that Mr. Fullerton was not
familiar with it, as his grandfather had died while he was a young man,
and had had but little intercourse with him. Both Mr. Fullerton's
grandfathers died some years before he was born. Many other descriptions
were quite as erroneous.

Sometimes a form was described as coming to one person in the circle
and not being recognized by that one, was referred to the next;
described as standing between them, etc. The number of successes,
compared with the number of failures, was not striking.

Whispers were heard--_one at a time_--always at a point in the circle at
a distance from that at which the Medium was just after the whisper
heard to speak to some one in her natural voice. The whispers _were
never simultaneous_ with the remark afterward made by the Medium.

In the short interval between the whisper and the succeeding remark by
the Medium, I distinctly heard, on many occasions, a rustle of clothing,
and once or twice a slight creak of the chair, as though the Medium had
moved her body from one side to the other, which she could easily have
done without taking her feet away from those of the person she faced.

Upon one of those present inquiring why the whisper always sounded as if
made by the same voice, the Medium stated that the whisper did always
sound the same, and that she was sorry to have to add, that it always
sounded as if made by the voice of the Medium.

Upon one occasion a light appeared and reappeared two or three times in
front of the Medium, passing from near her knee up for a foot or two.
The light was indistinct, apparently phosphorescent, and passed so
quickly that it could not be examined. It was described by the Medium,
however, as a form of a child from the Spirit world.

Those present changed their seats during the séance, as suggested, but
without producing more satisfactory results. The séance lasted about two

At Mrs. Lord's own suggestion before the séance, two women present took
the Medium into another room, and searched her clothes.



       *       *       *       *       *

February 20th, 1885.

The Commission met on Friday, February 20th, 1885, at 8 P.M., again at
the house of Mr. Furness, to attend a second séance in the presence of
Mrs. Lord.

On the part of the Commission were present Mr. Furness, Mr. Sellers and
Mr. Fullerton. There were also present several women and men, some of
whom had been present at the previous sitting. The circle, when formed,
was about six feet in diameter.

A ring was given by the Medium to Mr. Sellers and another to Miss Logan
to wear during the evening, with the expectation that they might be
taken by the Spirits and passed to another person in the circle, in
accordance with the unexpressed wish of the one holding the ring. This
was not done during the evening.

A small musical-box was also given to one of the women to hold, and a
zither placed upon the lap of a man. The former was, during the séance,
taken from the woman holding it, and passed to another person in the
circle. The Medium sat as before, with her hands free, while those in
the circle clasped hands, as was done on the former evening, each one
having his left wrist grasped by the right hand of his neighbor, or
_vice versa_.

The zither was undisturbed during the evening.

Touches were felt here and there on the knees of those in the circle,
and whispers were again heard from time to time.

The whispers were, as before, _never simultaneous_ with the speeches of
the Medium, which were heard just after in another part of the circle.

I distinctly noticed, on several occasions, the same rustle, as of a
change of position on the part of the Medium, between the whisper and
the remark by the Medium.

Many Spirit forms were described by the Medium as coming to those
present, with about the same proportion of success as on the former

At various times during the sitting, lights were seen, which appeared
and disappeared rapidly. They were indistinct and phosphorescent--such
as can be produced in a dark room by rubbing a match-head, or by
exhibiting an object rubbed with a match.

The lights--at least all that were clearly seen by several persons--were
within the circle and about the Medium.

Occasionally the Medium spoke of lights as without the circle, and one
or two of those present (not members of the Commission) assented. But,
as on two such occasions, when those opposite myself described the light
as above and behind me, I saw it above and in front of me, or between me
and the Medium; there is no reason to believe that they were not
deceived by the difficulty of judging of the distance of an indistinct
and evanescent appearance in a quite dark place. The direction, but not
the distance, can in such a case be readily known.

After a sitting of about two hours, the attempt to produce more striking
phenomena was abandoned.

During both séances Mrs. Lord kept up an almost continuous clapping of
hands--the noise was not loud, but sufficient to aid in hiding any
rustle of the Medium's dress, or creaking of a chair. The Medium also
talked constantly.

At the suggestion of the Medium those present joined in singing on two

The whisper heard in the circle was uniformly hoarse.

A list of those present at these séances and the names of the ladies who
searched the Medium, are appended:

Those present at Mrs. Lord's séance on Thursday were: Dr. and Mrs.
Pepper, Professor and Mrs. Fullerton, Mr. and Mrs. Sellers, Professor
and Mrs. Thompson, Geo. S. Pepper, Mr. Leonard, Miss M.M. Logan, Dr.
Leidy, Mrs. A.L. Wister, Miss Agnes Irwin, Walter R. Furness, Dr. C.B.
Knerr, Dr. Koenig, Dr. H.H. Furness.

Those present at Friday's séance were: Professor Fullerton, Miss Smith,
Mr. and Mrs. Sellers, Dr. Leidy, Mr. Leonard, Mr. and Mrs. F. Furness,
Mrs. A.L. Wister, Miss Irwin and Miss Sophie Irwin, Miss Logan, Mr. and
Mrs. F.M. Dick, Mrs. J.E. Carpenter, H.H. Furness. Mrs. A.L. Wister,
Mrs. Dr. Pepper, Women Searchers.



       *       *       *       *       *

May 27th, 1885.

On May 27th, The Seybert Commission held a meeting at the house of Mr.
Furness, at 8 P.M., to examine the phenomena occurring in the presence
of Mr. Pierre L.O.A. Keeler, a professional Medium.

There were present on the part of the Commission, Dr. Pepper, Mr.
Furness, Dr. Koenig, Dr. White, Dr. Knerr, Mr. Sellers and Mr.
Fullerton. The following friends of the Commission were also present:

Mr. F. Furness, Mr. W.R. Furness, Mr. J. Foster Kirk, Mr. Yost, Mrs.
E.D. Gillespie, Miss Gillespie, Mrs. Dr. Mitchell, Mrs. C.B. Rossell,
Mrs. Dr. Pepper, Mrs. Sellers, Mrs. A.L. Wister, Mrs. Dr. Knerr, Miss
Agnes Irwin, Miss M.M. Logan.

There were also present, as introduced by the Medium, the Medium's wife,
Mrs. Keeler; Col. S.P. Kase and Mrs. Kase, and Dr. Annie D. Ramburger.

The Medium, Mr. Keeler, is a young man, apparently about thirty years of
age, with well cut features, curly, brown hair, a small, sandy
moustache, and rather worn and anxious expression; he is strongly
built, about five feet eight inches high, and with rather short, quite
broad, and very muscular hands and strong wrists. The hands were
examined by Dr. Pepper and Mr. Fullerton after the séance.

The séance was held in Mr. Furness's drawing-room, and a space was
curtained off by the Medium in the north-east corner, thus:


The curtain is represented by _a_, _b_; _c_, _d_ and _e_ are three
chairs placed in front of the curtain by the Medium, in one of which
(_e_) he afterwards sat; _g_ denotes the position of Mrs. Keeler; _f_ is
a small table, placed within the curtain, and upon which were a
tambourine, a guitar, two bells, a hammer, a metallic ring; the
asterisks show the positions of the spectators, who sat in a double
row--the two marked (1) and (2) indicate the positions taken by Mrs.
Kase and Col. Kase, according to the directions of the Medium.

The curtain, or rather curtains, were of black muslin, and arranged as
follows: There was a plain black curtain, which was stretched across the
corner, falling to the floor. Its height, when in position, was 53
inches; it was made thus:


The cord which held the curtain was 1, 2, and the flaps which are
represented as standing above it (_a_, _b_, _c_, etc.), fell down over
_a'_, _b'_, _c'_, etc., and could be made to cover the shoulders of one
sitting with his back against the curtain. A black curtain was also
pinned against the wall, in the space curtained off, partly covering it.
Another curtain was added to the one pictured, as will be described

The Medium then asked Col. Kase to say a few words as to the necessity
of observing the conditions, need of harmony, etc. And then the Medium
himself spoke a few words of similar import. He then drew the curtain
(shown on the preceding page) along the cord (1, 2) and fastened it;
placed three wooden chairs in front of the curtain, as indicated in the
cut, and saying he needed to form a battery, asked Miss Agnes Irwin to
sit in chair (_d_), and Mr. Yost in chair (_c_), the Medium himself
sitting in chair (_e_). A black curtain was then passed by Mrs. Keeler
over Mr. Keeler, Miss Irwin and Mr. Yost, being fastened at _g_, between
_e_ and _d_, between _d_ and _c_, and beyond _a_: thus entirely covering
the three sitting in front of the stretched curtain up to their necks;
and when the flaps before mentioned were pulled down over their
shoulders, nothing could be seen but the head of each.

Before this last curtain was fastened over them, the Medium placed both
his hands upon the forearm and wrist of Miss Irwin, the sleeve being
pulled up for the purpose, and Miss Irwin grasped with her right hand
the left wrist of Mr. Yost; his right hand being in sight to the right
of the curtain.

After some piano-music, the Medium said he felt no power from this
'battery,' and asked Mrs. E.D. Gillespie to take Miss Irwin's place.
Hands and curtain were arranged as before.

The lights were turned down until the room was quite dim. Those present

During the singing, the Medium turned to speak to Mr. Yost, and his
body, which had before faced rather away from the two other persons of
the 'battery' (which position would have brought his right arm out in
front of the stretched curtain)--his body was now turned the other way,
so that, had he released his grasp upon Mrs. Gillespie's arm, his own
right arm could have had free play in the curtained space behind him.
His left knee also no longer stood out under the curtain in front, but
showed a change of position.

At this time Mrs. Gillespie declared she felt a touch, and soon after so
did Mr. Yost. The Medium's body was distinctly inclined toward Mr. Yost
at the time. Mrs. Gillespie said she felt taps, but declared that, to
the best of her knowledge, she still felt the Medium's two hands upon
her arm.

Raps indicated that the Spirit, George Christy, was present. As one of
those present played on the piano, the tambourine was played in the
curtained space and thrown over the curtain; bells were rung; the guitar
was thrummed a little. At this time the Medium's face was toward Mrs.
Gillespie, and his right side toward the curtain. His body was further
in against the curtain than either of the others. Upon being asked, Mrs.
Gillespie again said she thought she still felt two hands upon her arm.

The guitar was then thrust out, at least the end of it was, at the
bottom of the curtain, between Mrs. Gillespie and the Medium. Mrs.
Keeler drew away the curtain from over the toes of the Medium's boots,
to show where his feet were; the guitar was thrummed a little. Had the
Medium's right arm been free, the thrumming could have been done quite
easily with one hand.

Afterwards the guitar was elevated above the curtain; the tambourine,
which was by Mrs. Keeler placed upon a stick held up within the
enclosure, was made to whirl by the motion of the stick. The phenomena
occurred successively, not simultaneously.

When the guitar was held up, and when the tambourine was made to whirl,
both of these were to the right of the Medium, chiefly behind Mrs.
Gillespie; they were just where they might have been produced by the
right arm of the Medium, had it been free.

Two clothes-pins were then passed over the curtain, and they were used
in drumming to piano-music. They could easily be used in drumming by one
hand alone, the fingers being thrust into them.

The pins were afterwards thrown out over the curtain. Mr. Sellers picked
one up as soon as it fell, and found it warm in the split, as though it
had been worn. The drumming was probably upon the tambourine.

A hand was seen moving rapidly with a trembling motion--which prevented
it from being clearly observed--above the back curtain between Mr. Yost
and Mrs. Gillespie. Paper was passed over the curtain into the Cabinet
and notes were soon thrown out. The notes could have been written upon
the small table within the enclosure by the right hand of the Medium,
had it been free. Mrs. Keeler then passed a coat over the curtain, and
an arm was passed through the sleeve, fingers, with the cuff around
them, being shown over the curtain. They were kept moving, and a close
scrutiny was not possible.

Mr. Furness was then invited to hold a writing-tablet in front of the
curtain, when the hand, almost concealed by the coat-sleeve and the
flaps mentioned as attached to the curtain, wrote with a pencil on the
tablet. The writing was rapid, and the hand, when not writing, was kept
in constant tremulous motion. The hand was put forth in this case not
over the top curtain, but came from under the flap, and could easily
have been the Medium's right hand were it disengaged, for it was about
on a level with his shoulder and to his right, between him and Mrs.
Gillespie. Mr. Furness was allowed to pass his hand close to the curtain
and grasp the hand for a moment. It was a _right_ hand.

Soon after the Medium complained of fatigue, and the sitting was
discontinued. It was declared by the Spiritualists present to be a
fairly successful séance. When the curtains were removed, the small
table in the enclosure was found to be overturned, and the bells,
hammer, etc., on the floor.

It is interesting to note the space within which all the manifestations
occurred. They were, without exception, where they would have been had
they been produced by the Medium's right arm. Nothing happened to the
left of the Medium, nor very far over to the right. The sphere of
activity was between the Medium and Mr. Yost, and most of the phenomena
occurred, as, for example, the whirling of the tambourine, behind Mrs.

The front curtain--_i.e._, the main curtain which hung across the
corner--was 85 inches in length, and the cord which supported it, 53
inches from the floor. The three chairs which were placed in front of it
were side by side, and it would not have been difficult for the Medium
to reach across and touch Mr. Yost. When Mrs. Keeler passed objects over
the curtain, she invariably passed them to the right of the Medium,
although her position was on his left; and the clothes-pins, paper,
pencil, etc., were all passed over at a point where the Medium's right
hand could easily have reached them.

To have produced the phenomena by using his right hand, the Medium would
have to have passed it under the curtain at his back. This curtain was
not quite hidden by the front one at the end near the Medium, and this
end both Mr. Sellers and Dr. Pepper saw rise at the beginning of the

The only thing worthy of consideration, as opposed to a natural
explanation of the phenomena, was the grasp of the Medium's hands on
Mrs. Gillespie's arm.

The grasp was evidently a tight one above the wrist, for the arm was
bruised for about four inches. There was no evidence of a similar
pressure above that, as the marks on the arm extended in all about five
or six inches only. The pressure was sufficient to destroy the
sensibility of the forearm, and it is doubtful whether Mrs. Gillespie
with her arm in such a condition could distinguish between the grasp of
one hand, with a divided pressure (applied by the two last fingers and
the thumb and index) and a double grip by two hands. Three of our
number, Mr. Sellers, Mr. Furness and Dr. White, can, with one hand,
perfectly simulate the double grip.

It is specially worthy of note that Mrs. Gillespie declared that, when
the Medium first laid hold of her arm with his right hand before the
curtain was put over them, it was with an under grip, and she _felt his
right arm under her left_. But when the Medium asked her if she felt
both his hands upon her arm, and she said yes, she could feel the grasp,
but no arm under hers, though she moved her elbow around to find it--she
felt a hand, but not an arm, and at no time during the séance did she
find that arm.

(Taken from notes made during the séance and immediately after it.)



N.B.--It should be noted that both the Medium and Mr. Yost took off
their coats before being covered with the curtain. It was suggested by
Dr. Pepper that this might have been required by the Medium as a
precaution against movements on the part of Mr. Yost. The white
shirt-sleeves would have shown against the black background.


       *       *       *       *       *

December 29th, 1885.

There was a meeting of The Seybert Commission this evening, at the house
of Mr. Furness, on Washington Square, to investigate some
Materializations promised by the Mediums, Dr. Rothermel and Mr. Powell.

There were present Mr. Furness, Dr. Leidy, Professor Thompson, Dr. S.
Weir Mitchell, Dr. White, Dr. Knerr, Mr. Fullerton, Colonel Kase, Mr.
Frank Furness, Mrs. J. Dundas Lippincott, Mrs. Dr. Pepper, Mrs. A.L.
Wister, and a number of others.

The Mediums arrived with quite a bundle of apparatus, and stretched
their curtain where Mr. Keeler had his, across the corner of the parlor,
from the door leading into the hall to the edge of the window. The
curtain was similar to that of Mr. Keeler in its general character, and,
as in that case, the whole corner was draped in black. The shape of the
Cabinet was triangular.

The Mediums said it was impossible to produce materialized forms as they
had expected, and proceeded to give much the same sort of a séance as
Mr. Keeler's--in this case, however, the hands of the Medium covered by
the curtain being fastened with tape, instead of being held.

The arrangement of the curtain, positions of the Mediums, and the
positions of the spectators were as indicated.


X Dr. Rothermel--a curtain at his back and one in front of him, his head
through a hole in the upper part of the outer flap of the double

Y Mr. Powell.

* * * Spectators.

On table (2) was a music-box, and on table (1), within the Cabinet,
bells, a zither, etc.]

The lights were all extinguished but one, and that one was prevented
from throwing light on the Medium by a shade placed upon one side of
it--it was turned low. The light was not so good as during Mr. Keeler's

Before the lights were put out, Dr. White was asked to tie the Medium,
and Mrs. Lippincott to sew the ends of the ribbon and tape with which he
was tied.

A ribbon was tied around each leg above the knee, and the ends sewed to
his trowsers. A bit of black tape was then passed under the ribbon and
tied around the wrist, the ends being knotted and sewed together by Mrs.
Lippincott. His right hand was thus fastened to his right leg, and his
left hand to his left leg; though he still had some freedom of motion,
and could easily reach one hand with the other.

Dr. Rothermel was then placed as indicated, behind the outer curtain,
and the lights extinguished as described.

He asked for a drink of water, which was given him by Mr. Powell, who
stood directly in front of him while he drank it, and hid him from the

Then the zither played, a cap was thrown out over the curtain, a hand
(to the right of the Medium) was shown over the curtain.

Bells were rung, papers thrown out, a drum accompaniment to the piano
played, as by Mr. Keeler, and the drumsticks thrown out.

Mr. Powell wet in a glass some handkerchiefs with water, and passed them
over the curtain, they were passed out with a message written on them in
indelible ink. This could easily have been done with an indelible
pencil. (The small table within the curtain was within easy reach of the
right hand of the Medium, had it been free, and could have been used for
such work.)

The music-box on table (2) was set off--was rattled several times. (It
could have been done by the Medium's left hand if it were free.)

The person, to whom each of the above-mentioned handkerchiefs was to be
returned, was indicated by raps from the Spirit. (The Spirit was in
error in returning handkerchiefs to Dr. Mitchell and Mr. Fullerton.)

The zither was put out at the right and left hand lower corners of the
curtain. (It could have been done by the Medium, were his hands free.)

The Medium professed to be then controlled by the Spirit of a young
girl--Emma Hirsch. He spoke in an unnatural and squeaky voice, but
occasionally lapsed into his natural voice. The Spirit declared the
Medium unconscious, but refused to allow any medical examination of his

The Mediums were then asked to allow Dr. Rothermel's hands to be
examined. After a little delay, the curtain was folded back and the
hands exposed.

Mr. Fullerton was permitted to examine them by the light of a match
only, and very hastily. They did not allow a candle, which had been
lighted, to be brought near. As Mr. Fullerton approached to examine the
knots, Mr. Powell came close and seemed very much afraid they would be
touched. He kept reiterating, "Don't touch them!" "Don't touch them!"
"It would be very dangerous!" The examination was hasty and
unsatisfactory, as Mr. Powell and Dr. Rothermel both said that he (the
latter) could endure it only a moment. Hasty as it was, it showed that
the knots, which had been on top of the wrists, were now underneath; the
tapes, as is mentioned later, were, at the end of the séance, found cut
close to the knots.

Whether the tapes were really in their former state, and not already
cut, could only be known by examining them all around, and such an
examination was not allowed.

It should be stated that before this, and after some of the
manifestations, the Medium, with some convulsive movement, as if pulled
and pushed by Spirits, came out from under the curtain, and stood with
his hands on his legs, as if tied there, but it was too dark to see
whether he was really tied, or merely held his hands there, and no
examination was made.

Soon after, the Medium declared that the Spirits were cutting him loose,
and when the curtain was removed and lights brought, the tapes which had
bound his wrists were found to be cut through close to the knots.
Whether this was done at the beginning of the séance, leaving the
Medium's hands free from the beginning, or at the time indicated by the
Medium, there was no means of proving. The cutting of the tapes made the
tying and sewing tests quite valueless.

(Taken from notes made during the séance and immediately after.)



       *       *       *       *       *

The following advertisement was, in March, 1885, inserted in _The
Religio-Philosophical Journal_, of Chicago, _The Banner of Light_, in
Boston, and _The Public Ledger_, in Philadelphia:

University of Pennsylvania, hereby requests all Mediums for Independent
Slate Writing, and no other at present, who are willing to submit their
manifestations to the examination of this Commission, to communicate
with the undersigned, stating terms, etc.


_Acting Chairman_,

Philadelphia, Pa.

       *       *       *       *       *


When Mr. Keeler, a well-known "Spiritual Photographer," was in the city,
the Acting Chairman called on him, and requested from him in writing a
statement of his terms and the conditions under which an investigation
by this Commission could be held. The following reply was received from

1614 Green Street,

_Philadelphia_, November 6th, 1885.


Dear Sir:--In regard to giving the Photographic Séances I feel that I am
obliged to ask an observance of the following conditions: That there be
three Séances, for which I shall expect the sum of $300. I desire only
the regularly appointed members of the Commission on your side to be
present, I to have the privilege to invite an equal number of persons,
if necessary, to harmonize the antagonistic element which might be
produced by those persons not in perfect sympathy with the cause.

I must have the right to demand, if conditions make it necessary, the
exclusive use of the dark room and my own instrument.

The Séances to be given at your own residence.

As I cannot guard against the influences which others may bring, I shall
expect to be paid the afore-named sum whether my efforts prove
satisfactory or not, although I hope for the most favorable results, and
to this end I would urge the members of the Commission to surround me
with the most congenial and harmonious conditions possible.

These Séances to begin on the 12th inst.

If this meets with your approval an early answer is solicited.

Very respectfully,



I called this morning (Saturday, 14th November, 1885), on Mr. W. M.
Keeler, and told him, in effect, in the very words as well as I can
remember, as follows: that I had received his letter of the 6th inst.,
containing his terms, and had consulted the Commission in regard to
them; and that our conclusion had been quickly reached. He must know how
very simple a process this 'composite photography' is, and that among
photographers there is no mystery whatever in it. For his own process he
claimed a Spiritual Agency--this agency we were willing to accept (in
my own case I was anxious to accept it) if, after a thorough
investigation, his process could not be explained by well-known physical
laws. The conditions he demanded were such as to render any
investigation simply silly. His exclusive use of the dark room, which
could have nothing to do with Spiritual forces, for the Spirits had
already done their work in the Camera, utterly precluded us from
discovering whether his processes were in anywise different from
ordinary photography. He wished to know in what way this prevented us
from detecting fraud if the operations took place in a private house
where he was a stranger. I replied that without for a moment impugning
his honesty, he must know that unless we were present with him in the
dark room, we could not affirm that our marks had not been duplicated on
substituted plates.

Furthermore, that we had regarded his terms as intentionally
prohibitory. The demand for three hundred dollars was so extraordinary
that we could regard it in no other light than as a desire to avoid an
investigation altogether. I asked him what his ordinary charge was, and
he replied two dollars for each sitting, and that he made from twenty to
forty dollars a day, when he settled down to work.

That there might be no misunderstanding, I repeated my reply to his
wife: that we were ready to investigate, if we could be allowed to watch
the very points where material agency ceases and spiritual begins, but
these very points Mr. Keeler forbade us to examine, and that the failure
rested with him.

At one time his vexation (which was manifest) a little ran away with his
discretion. He asked, with somewhat of a sneer, 'How did you expect to
investigate it?' I replied that 'I could not answer for others, but for
myself I should have liked to have him say, when we of the Commission
met him, The Spirits are present, through my Mediumship, here is my
Camera in which the Spirits will manifest themselves on the sensitized
plates, take it, and so long as I am present with my influence, do what
you please.' He laughed outright and said 'That would be a good thing.'

I endeavored throughout the interview to impress him with our utter
incredulity in the spiritual nature of his photographs, and yet to give
him no loop to hang a charge of discourteous or illiberal treatment on.
I asked him to give me, in my private capacity, a sitting at his
earliest convenience, and that I should not be satisfied with less than
a cherub on my head, one on each shoulder, and a full-blown angel on my
breast. He laughingly assented.


_Acting Chairman Seybert Commission_.

I ought, perhaps, to add that I showed to Mr. Keeler a composite
photograph taken by one of my sons, wherein a Spirit quite as ethereal
as any of Mr. Keeler's, appears in the background. He looked at it, and
returned it to me without remark.


       *       *       *       *       *

March 30th, 1886.

The Seybert Commission met this evening at the house of Dr. Pepper, to
investigate Spiritistic phenomena produced through the Mediumship of Mr.
Briggs (for an account of Mr. Briggs see a previous report).

There were present, Dr. Pepper, Dr. Leidy, Dr. S. Weir Mitchell,
Professor Koenig, Dr. White, Dr. Knerr, Mr. Fullerton and two friends of
Dr. Pepper, Mr. Charles G. Smith and Mr. Robert S. Davis; also the
Medium, Mr. Fred. Briggs.

The séance was in Dr. Pepper's office; a square table (about 3-1/2 feet
square) was placed in the room near the centre, and was supplemented by
an oblong table (about 4 feet by 3) placed with one end touching the
side of the former, upon the Medium's declaring the former too small.
Seats were taken around the tables.

A banjo, a musical box, a zither, a couple of slates and a fan were on
the tables.

The Medium insisted that there should be total darkness, and a shawl was
hung over the window to exclude all light.

At first hands were joined around the table. Then the Medium suggested
breaking the circle. His hands were then quite free. Draughts of air
were felt (possibly the fan); the Medium kept making noises, blowing and
breathing hard, talking, etc.; the slates on the table were moved, the
guitar was twanged, the music-box played. During all this the Medium
asked that the hands of all present be kept on the table.

The Medium stated that Mr. Seybert was present. He declared that Mr.
Seybert expressed himself as satisfied with the efforts of the
Commission to make a fair investigation.

When the Medium stated that some message had been written on one of the
slates by Mr. Seybert, the gas was lit, and we found on one slate "I am
here." No one present was able to declare it Mr. Seybert's handwriting,
as none were familiar with his writing.

The light was then turned low. Mr. Smith was asked to sit in the place
of Dr. Mitchell. He held, as directed, one slate up under the table,
and the Medium held the other under the table over his own knee. After
some conversation the Medium drew out his slate, and the light being
turned up we found on it:

"I am with you.

John Pepper."

It was too dark to watch the Medium during this last occurrence. The
conversation, which was general, would have prevented writing from being

Light turned up--both slates held by the Medium under the table--no

The light was then turned low. Dr. Leidy was asked to sit next the
Medium. Some noise and confusion resulted from making the change. Then
the Medium asked Dr. Leidy to put his hand also upon a slate which the
Medium was holding up under the table. Attention was then called to a
scratching sound, which might have been writing. The slate was taken out
by Dr. Leidy, and the light turned up. The following was written on it:

"John Smith is with you like a young son.

John Lydy."

It was, of course, possible that the writing was done before Dr. Leidy
put his hand on it, as the slate was not then examined.

The Medium suggested that we ask mental questions; several did so,
without result.

The light was then turned up. Hands were joined. Some feeble raps were
heard; they apparently issued from under the table.

Slates were held under the table, but without result.

The light was then turned low. A slate was held under the table by the
Medium. He breathed hard, and made no little noise for some time. Then
Dr. Koenig was asked to put his hand on the slate. A scratching was
heard. When the light was turned up the slate contained the message:

"I will help you all.

Dr. Benj. Rush."

With this the séance ended.

(Copied from notes taken during the séance. Written out the day after.)



       *       *       *       *       *

April 11th, 1886.

I attended a séance at the house of Colonel Kase, 1601 North 15th
Street, Philadelphia, on April 11th, at 8.10 P.M. The Medium was Mrs.

There were about a dozen persons present; at least two of them, besides
Mrs. Best, claimed to be Mediums.

The séance was in Colonel Kase's sitting-room. The "Cabinet" was made by
stretching a curtain, suspended to a curved rod, across one corner. It
could hold a chair, and was perhaps four feet across, or more. The
Medium, Mrs. Best, took her seat in the chair and drew the curtain. The
room was made _totally_ dark--a cloth being used to cover the crack of
the door. The spectators, who were arranged in a deep curve facing the
cabinet, were asked to sing a hymn.

As we sang, a voice from the Cabinet, a deep contralto, joined in,
loudly. Soon something resembling in outline a human form covered with
drapery appeared at the Cabinet. It was indistinctly luminous. No face
was visible; nor could the face of any other Spirit, which appeared
during the evening, be discerned even in faintest outline. The light
seemed to belong entirely to the drapery. The Spirit was declared to be
Apollonius, and made a speech in a loud, harsh voice. Other similar
forms appeared one after the other, and spoke in different tones--all
the voices, however, with the exception of Apollonius's and that of
another speaker, were more or less like hoarse whispers. When the Spirit
of Mr. T.R. Hazard appeared, his voice was by no means natural, and
sounded like a bad imitation.

A form calling itself "Lottie" appeared, kissed a Medium present, and at
my request passed its hands over my head and face. Its hands were
covered with luminous drapery which hung down perhaps a foot. I was
allowed to touch it. It felt like soft tulle. A very strong odor of
sandal-wood prevailed, and the smell of phosphorus, even if it had been
used, could not easily, at a little distance, have been discerned. The
luminous appearance of the drapery did not seem to be due to
phosphorus--it did not fume. It seemed rather such as might have been
produced by luminous paint--a mixture luminous in the dark after
exposure to the light. I noticed on the hand, or what, from position, I
inferred to be the hand, of the form, a distinctly phosphorescent
appearance; it was on this account I asked it to touch me. As it passed
its hand over my face I distinctly smelt phosphorus.

At one time two forms appeared near each other and near the Cabinet.
They might easily have been produced by holding up luminous drapery.
Tall and then short forms then appeared one at a time. If the drapery
were raised or lowered the appearance could readily have been produced,
and the person holding it would have been quite invisible.

The different voices that spoke _never_ spoke simultaneously. A large
rug on the floor in front of the Cabinet would have prevented steps from
being heard, had the form been the Medium. On two occasions, when I
suggested that I recognized the form by asking, "Is it ----?" the Spirit
assented, and assumed the character. Both the persons I mentioned are
still alive.

The séance began at 8.10 P.M., and lasted two hours and a-half. There
was much singing.

The séance was regarded by several Spiritualists who were present as a
very satisfactory one. I expressly asked for their opinion.

(Written out on April 13th, from notes made in the car, on my way home
from the séance.)



       *       *       *       *       *

January 30th, 1887.

Yesterday I visited Mrs. M.B. Thayer, an Independent Slate Writing
Medium, at 1601 North 15th Street, Philadelphia, in hopes of arranging
for a séance at that time. I had a conversation of about half an hour
with Mrs. Thayer, who asked what I had seen before, and with what
Mediums I had sat; but I was not able to get a sitting at once, Mrs.
Thayer declaring "the conditions" unsatisfactory. She made an
appointment, however, for to-day at 4 P.M. In the hall I met, on my
departure, Mrs. Kase, the hostess of the Medium, to whom I am personally
known, and who told me in an 'aside' that she would not reveal my
identity to the Medium. This might readily have been overheard by the
Medium, who was standing close by. [I visited Mrs. Thayer alone, because
she had expressed an unwillingness to appear before the Commission, and
we found it necessary to visit her as private persons.]

Upon calling to-day, I was ushered into Mrs. Thayer's room, in which
stood a small wooden table covered with a red cloth (which hung down,
perhaps a foot, on all sides from the edges of the table), ready for the
séance. Ten or twelve plain single slates lay in a pile on a piece of
furniture near the table.

Mrs. Thayer handed me two of these slates, which I cleaned and examined.
I then marked them on the inside, or what became, when I laid them
together, the inside, and held them while she tied them together with a
piece of white tape. After they were tied they could be separated an
eighth of an inch without difficulty. Holding the slates in my hand, I
examined the table and the furniture near it, and then took my seat at
the table, Mrs. Thayer sitting opposite me. The table was about 2-1/2 x
1-1/2 feet. At the suggestion of Mrs. Thayer, I placed the tied slates
upon the table under the cloth, and we both placed our hands upon the
cloth above them. After waiting for some time for indications of
writing, I withdrew the slates from under the cloth, and, as directed,
held them, with my right hand up against the under surface of the table,
Mrs. Thayer placing her left hand upon my right as I held the slates.
After holding them thus for some time I was told to withdraw them, and
hold them against my forehead. Then I was told to open them and to
scrape some pencil-dust over the inner surfaces. This I did, again
closing the slates, which Mrs. Thayer tied as before. I was again
directed to hold them up against the under surface of the table, and the
Medium again placed her hand upon the hand with which I held them. Her
hand was not wholly upon mine, but projected beyond it upon my wrist and
towards my edge of the slates. After my holding the slates in this
position, seemingly without result, until I was very wearied, the Medium
suggested my laying them upon my lap and covering them with the table
cover, which hung down more on my side than on hers. She said it was
necessary that the slates should be concealed. When they were in this
position we joined hands upon the table, and she placed her feet upon
mine under the table, thus making, as she said, a strong "battery." This
seeming to be inefficacious, I was directed to wrap the slates in a
cloth given me for the purpose (apparently a small table cover) and to
lay them on the floor under the table, placing my left foot upon them.
This I did, and the Medium placed one of her feet upon my left foot,
taking my hands upon the table, and again forming the "battery." After
some waiting, much calling upon the Spirit of Foster to write (this she
did at intervals during the séance) and several requests for raps (which
did not come), the Medium decided that we should get nothing during the
sitting, and it was discontinued. I took up the slates from the floor,
took off the cloth and untied the tape; no mark had been made upon them.
There had been much conversation during the sitting, the Medium telling
me not to keep my mind on the slates, but to put myself into a condition
of "passivity." She declared me mediumistic, and said that she doubted
whether she would ever be able to get results with me. She stated two or
three times that she saw three forms behind me, but dimly, and could
not describe them. One was a "mild and gentle lady, with a beautiful
hand." To the only person whom I can remember with a markedly beautiful
hand, no one would have applied these adjectives. The sitting was about
an hour long.

(Copied and arranged the same evening from notes made in the car on the
way home from the séance.)


[I arranged for another séance with Mrs. Thayer, to be held some days
later, but at the time appointed she refused to see me, giving as excuse

G.S.F.--April, 1887.]

       *       *       *       *       *

On the evening of January 29th, 1887, in company with Dr. J.W. White, I
called on Mrs. Thayer, at No. 1601 North 15th Street.

The lady seemed not to be pleased with our visit, and declared that we
were no Spiritualists. She reluctantly agreed to give us a séance on the
following Sunday, and on parting the gentleman of the house politely
invited us to attend a flower séance to be held by the same lady on the
following Thursday.

Calling on Sunday, Mrs. Thayer excused herself on account of

The next Thursday we attended the flower séance, in which I felt much
curiosity from the wonderful story that had been told to me by a
Spiritualist friend, who had seen one by the same Medium several years

The séance was held in the second story of the back building, in a room
which the proprietor of the house informed me he had devoted to the
purpose of Spiritualist séances. About thirty persons were assembled,
and, without any examination of the premises, they were seated around a
long dining-table. In the company Dr. Koenig was the only other member
of the Seybert Commission present. The séance was opened with an
'invocation' by a lady, and during the 'manifestations' the company sang
popular airs, such as 'Sweet by-and-bye,' etc. The doors and windows
were all securely closed and the lights extinguished. Sounds were heard
of objects dropping on the table, and from time to time matches were lit
and exposed, strewed before the company, cut plants and flowers. There
were all of the kind sold at this season by the florists, consisting of
a pine bough, fronds of ferns, roses, pinks, tulips, lilies, callas
(Richardia) and smilax (Myrsiphyllum). At one time there fell on the
table a heavy body, which proved to be a living terrapin; at another
time there appeared a pigeon which flew about the room. The flower
manifestation ceased, and the gas was re-lit. A lady then made some
remarks on the wonderful phenomena exhibited in evidence of the truth of
Spiritualism, and another followed with some sentimentalities on the
subject. The proprietor of the house declared that the flowers and other
objects brought to view in the séance were not previously in the room,
and their appearance could not be explained unless through Spiritual
agency. He said that in former years, at similar séances, flowers had
appeared in much greater quantities. The Medium, Mrs. Thayer, said she
had not before served in a flower séance for several years.

At the next act of the séance, as I understood it, a 'test' was called
for. A young man, whose name I did not distinctly hear, now took the
chair of the former Medium. He promptly announced the appearance of the
Spirit of an Indian girl, and then personified her by assuming a silly
address in broken English. In this manner he expressed himself as seeing
various Spirits of friends and relatives of the company hovering among
them. They were announced by the first name in a rather uncertain and
expectant manner, and in a few instances they were supposed to be
recognized by some of the company, but mostly did not accord with their
knowledge. As an example, the Medium informed Dr. Koenig that a tall man
named Charley was holding something over his head and encouraging him in
some great enterprise. Dr. Koenig did not recognize the man, nor could
he be made to comprehend anything of the subjects of which he was
informed by the materialized Indian girl. During this second act of the
séance, I could detect nothing that could be attributed to other than
ordinary human agency. The Indian girl retired, and the séance closed.


      *       *       *       *       *

February 10th, 1887.

I enter Col. Kase's house, 1601 North 15th Street, in company of Drs.
Leidy, White and Mr. Sommerville, a friend of the first. We are received
by the Colonel and pass scrutiny. The séance takes place in the second
story sitting-room. This is furnished with a large oak table, a square
piano, and one corner is made into an alcove, the curtains of which are
thrown back and reveal several drawings in black and white--one of the
young Raphael. Over the mantlepiece a painting representing the
apparition of a Spirit-form, to a young lady sitting in front of a
fire-place. On entering this room find the Medium, Mrs. Thayer, engaged
in seating the audience. She is a middle-aged lady of good proportions,
hair black, color flushed, the light eyes look weary, the lower face
rather square, deep lines around the mouth. She is evidently not in very
good humor. After a while the company, between twenty and thirty
persons, mostly women, get seated.

Owing to the many people present I could not see what preparations had
been made. Medium requests that the piano be moved against the door (to
keep off illicit Spirits?). Chair placed against the door. Light turned
out completely. Singing of "Sweet by-and-bye." Medium requests a lady to
invoke Divine blessing. Disgusting cant. More singing. Darkness
impenetrable. Sudden bumping noise on the table. Match struck by the
Colonel just as something crawls over my hand and falls to the floor. It
is a red-bellied terrapin. Some ferns appear neatly arranged on the
table in front and to the left of the Medium. Expressions of
gratification. Dark. Singing. A pine-bough is thrown against me.
Screaming on account of terrapin. Match. Several parties have large
lilies in front of them. My neighbor a lily of the valley (he states
that his wife said before he left: "I wish you would get a lily of the
valley"). Dark. Singing. Match. Dr. Leidy has some red lilies; some
smilax and a wreath are on the table. Great astonishment. Colonel Kase
says it is wonderful, but during the Centennial year they got tables
loaded with flowers (the Medium has not given a flower séance for some
years, she says, hence the rather meagre supply.) A lady points out the
fact that the flowers are quite cold and have a sort of dew on them. But
I found those before me quite dry, as if they had been in the room for
some time. The Medium is tired and retires. Mrs. X. is requested to come
under the influence of her Spirit-guides, and she does. She puts herself
in an oratorical posture, eyes closed, and reels off the common-places
of the _Banner of Light_: the Spirits are eager for investigation, but
benighted men in the flesh cannot make the conditions, and thus continue
to wallow in darkness. The Spirits are kind. They do not damn those poor
benighted ones, but still hold out, in beautiful optimism, the hope that
all those who do want to know the truth will find it!

Another lady, Mrs. Y., is now called upon to put herself under
Spirit-guidance, and she thereupon proceeds to enlighten the sheep-fold
how it is possible that these flowers and branches and turtles can come
through solid walls and closed windows. "It is all awfully simple; it is
nothing but PROJECTION! The Spirits understand the laws of electric
projection; even the electric forces themselves understand the laws of
nature and the currents. The electric force snatches the flower, or
plant, and propels it along invisible wires. There is no such thing as
solid substance, matter is permeable to these forces, and, therefore, it
is easy to see how a terrapin can come quick as lightning through a
wall." (Verbatim.)

Mr. Copeland is now called upon to give the audience some tests, a
rather inoffensive looking young man with hair standing up. The light is
turned down; he jerks his head and body, passes his hand over his eyes
and begins to talk in broken, childish sentences. A little Indian maid
now controls him. The maid describes a tall, bony, black-haired
gentleman standing near _me_, with a fatherly look; he is Charley, and
holds something, as if I were undertaking some grand enterprise. But as
I do not know Charley, Charley disappears, and the spirit of a Quaker
gentleman comes to a lady not far from me--all right. Soon, however, the
maid is at me again. This time it is William. He has something chemical,
like a discovery. Have I not been across the water where people had the
cholera and turned black and died? Did I not very much disappoint a
young lady over there? Did I give her a ring? Margaret, or some name
like that, now comes around. Have I never seen the Medium before? No.
Then I should pay him a visit. Wants to talk with me about my past and
future. Has much to say; and so on. Do I not go often into a building
where many persons work at chemistry? Am I not sceptical?--rather. Wants
to cure my scepticism, and so on, _ad nauseam_. Me is tired, me wants
go. Again the jerks, the rubbing of the eyes, and the Indian maid is
once more Mr. Copeland.

Séance terminates with the payment of one dollar, cash, at 9.30 P.M.

Stifling atmosphere breathed for 1-1/2 hours, for what? _Quelle bêtise!_


       *       *       *       *       *

Saturday, March 26th, 1887.

I attended a séance at the house of Col. Kase, 1601 North 15th Street,
on Thursday evening, March 24th, Mrs. Wells acting as Medium. There were
about thirty persons present, of whom several seemed to be Mediums. The
séance was held in the sitting-room in the second story--a room
separated by double doors from a smaller room behind. The back room,
used as a Cabinet, was shut off by portières, and the persons were
arranged in front of the curtains, in the form of a deep curve, Dr.
Leidy, Dr. Knerr and myself being put in the second row. Mrs. Thayer
directed us where to sit. The room in which we sat was lighted by a
single gas-jet, situated some distance behind the spectators; a piece of
music was placed before this to prevent any direct light from falling on
the curtains, and the gas was turned very low. Mrs. Wells entered the
room used as a Cabinet, and took her seat in a chair opposite the
curtains. Mrs. Thayer closed the curtains.

After some time Spirits began to show themselves one by one between the
curtains, and to whisper. Mrs. Thayer stepped forward and interpreted
for them, calling up persons in the circle to receive communications.
The forms were very indistinct from the circle, and apparently not very
distinct to those called up, as they expressed some dissatisfaction. One
man called up to speak with his daughter (one of the better forms)
remarked that he "saw her putty good, but not very." One or two of the
forms stepped out in front of the curtains (one was dressed as a man,
one purported to be Mary, Queen of Scots), but they did not advance to
the circle, and the light was so dim that they could not be seen at all
clearly. Only on one or two occasions two forms appeared at once, and
then not in front of the curtains, but one on each side of one of the
curtains--this curtain being pulled together, as though some one were
reaching around behind it. The appearance could very readily have been
made by the Medium's appearing between the two curtains, and holding up
a bit of drapery at the side of one of them. The audience was evidently
an uncritical one. When a Spirit called for her husband, Mrs. Thayer,
the interpreter, asked, "Has anyone here a wife on the other side?" An
old man present stated that his had died two years before. He asked if
the Spirit's name were _May_. When he came back to his seat, I heard him
remark to his neighbor that that "must have been her, but she had more
flesh on than when I knew her." No examination was made before or after
the séance of either room or Medium, and no tests of any sort were
applied. The séance lasted about an hour and a-half.



(Copied and arranged from notes made in the car on the way home from
this séance--Saturday evening, March 26th, 1887.)

N.B.--I have neglected to state (though it is mentioned in my notes)
that the séance was commenced by an "invocation" from Mrs. Coleman, who
sat near the curtains. It was in no wise remarkable.


       *       *       *       *       *


The undersigned, a member of The Seybert Commission, appointed by the
University, in company with one or more of the other members, at
different times, from March, 1884, to April, 1887, attended twelve
séances with reputed Spiritualist Mediums. Led to view Spiritualism with
the respect due to its importance, based on the reflection that many of
the most intelligent and honorable of the community had become convinced
of its truth, I undertook the investigation of the subject free from
conscious prejudice, and with a desire to observe with unbiased judgment
the phenomena which might be presented to me in the séances of
Spiritualist Mediums. Of the dozen séances attended in company with
other members of the Commission, five were held with three Slate-writing
Mediums, two with as many Rapping Mediums, and five with four
Materializing Mediums. All the Mediums possessed more or less celebrity
as such among the advocates of Spiritualism. I further attended,
unaccompanied by members of the Commission, three séances, of which one
was held with one of the former Materializing Mediums, and two with
other Rapping Mediums.

The reputed phenomena or manifestations were carefully observed, as far
as circumstances would permit, _i.e._, under the conditions ordinarily
exacted by Mediums.

I have kept a record of my observations of the Spiritualist séances, but
it is unnecessary to relate them here. As the result of my experience
thus far, I must confess that I have witnessed no extraordinary
manifestation, such as we ordinarily hear described as evidence of
communication between this and the Spirit world. On the contrary, all
the exhibitions I have seen have been complete failures in what was
attempted or expected, or they have proved to be deceptions and tricks
of jugglery. Sometimes accompanied by buffoonery, I never saw in them
anything solemn or impressive, and never did they give the slightest
positive information of interest. Having thus far failed to discover
anything in evidence of the truth of Spiritualism, I yet remain ready to
receive such evidence from an honest Medium.

One of the Slate-writing Mediums, with whom we held several séances,
relieved the tedium of waiting for a slate-communication by writing in
pencil on slips of paper, under Spirit control, as we were assured,
communications from a succession of Spirits. The hand of these
communications was good, and in each one different as it would appear
from different individuals. There was, however, in all a similarity of
expression and grammatical construction, which indicated a want of
entire Spirit control. One of these communications, in my possession,
reads literally thus:

"People have thought my manner and habit very strange indeed regarding
the Truth of Spirit control There has been many things practiced which I
see now was wrong and foolish yet the Truth stills exist that we can
come back and make ourselves felt you ask if I am pleased with what
Thomas [probably Thomas R. Hazard, who was with us at the time] is doing
I am in many respects though there are things best left undone and
unsaid You are perfectly aware of my past feelings also of my desire to
have the truth properly investigated which I feel it will be and the
Truth and Truth only sought after by the Committee I am more concious
now than a time back Henry Seybert"

Another communication in my possession, obtained by a friend from the
same Medium, at another séance, is in an equally good and strikingly
different hand from the former, and reads thus: "Yes both of those
Spirits were there and were plainly seen There was others there that
were imperceptable Alice Cary"

As examples of communications, in irregular scrawls on slips of paper,
in my possession, thrown from behind a screen by a Materialized Spirit,
at a séance of Mr. Keeler, are the following: "Hello folks" "Oh I am a
big slugger" "How is your nose Doc" "I am seeing the sad result of my
work. H. Seibert" [_sic_]. The punctuation and spelling are carefully


       *       *       *       *       *


Perhaps no other investigation of Spiritistic phenomena has exercised so
strong an influence upon the public mind in America, at least, as that
conducted by Professor J.C.F. Zoellner and his colleagues in Leipsic in
1877 and 1878. In November and December of the year 1877 and in May of
1878, Professor Zoellner had a number of séances with Dr. Henry Slade,
the American Medium, in Leipsic, the results of which he has narrated in
his "Scientific Treatises," and which he finds of special interest in
connection with certain physical speculations with which he was before
this time occupied. He declares himself specially authorized to mention
by name as present at some of his investigations his colleagues,
Professors Fechner and Scheibner, of the University of Leipsic, and
Professor Weber of Goettingen. These three, he states, were perfectly
convinced of the reality of the observed facts, and that they were not
to be attributed to imposture or prestidigitation. He also mentions the
presence of Professor Wundt at at least one of the sittings.

The phenomena narrated by Zoellner--the bursting of the wooden screen,
the passages of coins out of closed boxes, the abnormal actions of the
solid wooden rings, the tying of knots in the endless cord, the prints
made upon smoked paper by the feet of four-dimentional beings--all these
have become classic in Spiritistic literature, and the accounts may be
obtained in convenient form collected, arranged and translated into
English by Mr. C.C. Massey, of Lincoln's Inn, London.

Of these phenomena themselves, verification is, at this late date,
manifestly out of the question. The only published accounts are those
made by Zoellner, and in the absence of notes made at the time, all
descriptions of phenomena given now by the other persons present would
be valueless, except as indicating the impression made upon them at the
time by the occurrences.

But, though the phenomena themselves cannot be satisfactorily sifted,
the men who were engaged in the investigation are, with the exception of
Zoellner himself, still living, and it occurred to me when in Germany
during the past summer, that a conference with each of these men, and an
inquiry into their qualifications for making such an investigation into
the phenomena of Spiritism, might be of no small value. These men are:
_William Wundt_, Professor of Philosophy in the University of Leipsic;
_Gustav Theodore Fechner_, now Professor Emeritus of Physics in the
University of Leipsic; _W. Scheibner_, Professor of Mathematics in the
University of Leipsic; and _Wilhelm Weber_, Professor Emeritus of
Physics in the University of Goettingen--all of them men of eminence in
their respective lines of scholarship.

On Saturday, June 19th, I called upon Professor Wundt at his home in
Leipsic; with respect to the investigation of 1877-78 he gave me the
following information, which I noted down during my conversation with
him, asking him to repeat the points mentioned as I noted them, so as to
avoid any error or misunderstanding, and which I copied out, with merely
verbal changes, two days later.

Professor Wundt said:

1. That at the séances at which he himself was present (and he was
present at two or three of them) the conditions of observation were very
unsatisfactory. All hands had to be kept on the table, and no one was
allowed to look under it.

2. That all that he saw done looked as if it might have been done by

3. That the writing on slates was very suspicious--the German was bad,
just such German as Slade spoke.

4. That Professor Weber, who was present at the sittings, was a very old
man at the time, and presumably not an acute observer.

5. That Professor Fechner, another of those present, was afflicted with
an incipient cataract, and could see very little.

6. That Professor Zoellner himself was at the time decidedly not in his
right mind; his abnormal mental condition being clearly indicated in his
letters and in his intercourse with his family.

7. That he (Professor Wundt) had not a high respect for the scientific
judgment of Professor Ulrici, of Halle, who had been so much impressed
by the report made by Professor Zoellner; Professor Ulrici he thought
literary and poetical, but not scientific.

It will be seen that some of the points mentioned by Professor Wundt are
suggestive; but I will postpone an examination of his statements, as of
those of each of the others, until they have all been given and can be

On the same day (June 19th) I called upon Professor Fechner, also at his
home in Leipsic. Professor Fechner, who no longer lectures, being old
and feeble, and suffering from cataract of the eyes, made the following
statements, each of which I translated to him for his approval, after I
had set it down:

1. That he himself was present at but two sittings, and that these were
not very decisive.

2. That he did not look upon Slade as a juggler, but accepted the
objective reality of the facts; that he did this, however, not on the
strength of his own observations, for these were unsatisfactory, but
because he had faith in Professor Zoellner's powers of observation.

3. That what he saw might have been produced by juggling.

4. That the sittings at which he was present were held at night, and
that he could not remember what sort of a light they had.

5. That Zoellner's mental derangement came on very gradually, so that it
would be difficult to say when it began; but that from the time of his
experiments with Slade it was more pronounced. He (Fechner) did not
think, however, that it incapacitated Zoellner as an observer, the
derangement being emotional; but, such as it was, it was clearly shown
in his family and in his intercourse with friends.

6. Professor Fechner referred me to Professors Scheibner and Weber for
information, saying that these two were present at most of the sittings.

I failed at this time to meet Professor Scheibner, who, though resident
in Leipsic, happened to be away from home on a visit; but, having made
an appointment with him by letter, I returned to Leipsic on July 3d, and
called upon him at his home; upon this occasion he gave me more full and
satisfactory details concerning Professor Zoellner's investigation than
I succeeded in obtaining from any of the others. The notes which I made
during my conversation with him I translated to him, and corrected in
accordance with his suggestions before leaving his house. After my
return to Halle I copied my notes out in full, and sent them by mail to
Professor Scheibner, with the request that he correct them and return
them to me at Berlin, signing his name to them if they correctly
represented his opinions. In answer he enclosed me the copy which I had
sent him, corrected where he thought the notes inexact, and an
accompanying letter, stating that he did not forbid me to use the
material which he had given me, but that he did not wish to set his name
to any publication, if only for the reason that he was not sufficiently
familiar with the English to judge accurately as to the shades of
meaning, and thus could not say whether he accurately agreed with the
notes as they stand, or not.

The copy which he corrected and returned to me I place at length in this
Report, merely translating his corrections (very literally), and
inserting them at the points indicated by himself. They are enclosed in
quotation marks. In some instances, my desire for exactitude in the
translations has resulted in very bad English; the shape of my own
paragraphs is due to the time and manner of their framing, and to a
reluctance to making any changes in their form afterwards.

The copy reads as follows:

On July 3d, 1886, I visited Professor W. Scheibner, at his rooms, in
Leipsic, and obtained from him the following information concerning
Professor Zoellner's Spiritistic experiments with Dr. Henry Slade, the
American Medium:

1. Professor Scheibner thinks that he was present at three or four of
the regular séances with Slade. Slade came to Professor Zoellner's
rooms; they sat around a table for perhaps half an hour, and then, after
the séance was over, they spent an hour or two sitting informally in the
same room, or in the next room, and talking. During these informal
conversations surprising things would occur. Raps would now and then be
heard, and objects would unexpectedly be thrown about the room. In these
conversations Professor Scheibner was present perhaps five or six times.
Some of these took place during the day, and some in the evening.

2. Professor Scheibner said that each single thing that he saw might
possibly have been jugglery, "although he perceived nothing that raised
a direct suspicion."

The whole number of incidents taken together, however, surprised him,
and seemed scarcely explicable as jugglery, for there did not seem to be
the necessary time or means for preparing so many tricks, "which often
connected themselves surprisingly with desires casually expressed in
momentary conversations."

Professor Scheibner said, however, that he did not regard himself as
competent to form an opinion which should have scientific weight,

(_a_) He knows nothing about jugglery;

(_b_) He was merely a passive spectator, and could not, properly
speaking, make observations--could not suggest conditions, "or gain the
control which seemed necessary;" and

(_c_) He is short-sighted, "and might easily have left unnoticed
something essential."

He says merely, that to him, _subjectively_, jugglery did not seem a
good "or sufficient" explanation of the phenomena.

3. Professor Scheibner said that he had never seen anything of the kind
before. He had never even, since his childhood, seen any exhibitions of
jugglery; he does not go to see such things, because he is so
short-sighted that if he went he would see nothing. In this connection
he repeated his statement that from this, among other causes, he did not
regard himself as competent to give an opinion. He said that many
persons in Germany had demanded his opinion, but that he had refused it
because he regarded his subjective impression, without objective proofs,
as scientifically valueless.

4. Professor Scheibner said that he did not believe in these things
before. He came to the séances because Professor Zoellner was a personal
friend. He has seen very little of the sort since.

That little has been in the presence of a lady in Leipsic through whom
raps occurred, and psychography. This last phenomenon consisted in
communication through a little contrivance, furnished with an index or
pointer, which answered questions by pointing to letters laid out before
it. This it did when the lady placed her hand on the machine. The
questions were "usually" not asked mentally, but spoken out. There were
no tests applied to these phenomena, no conditions of exact
investigation. Professor Scheibner "holds suspicion of conscious
deception to be out of the question."

5. Professor Zoellner was, said Professor Scheibner, a man of keen
mind, but in his investigations apt to see "by preference" what lay in
the path of his theory. He could "less easily" see what was against his
theory. He was childlike and trustful in character, and might easily
have been deceived by an impostor. He expected everyone to be honest and
frank as he was. He started with the assumption that Slade meant to be
honest with him. He would have thought it wrong to doubt Slade's
honesty. Professor Zoellner, said Professor Scheibner, set out to find
proof for four-dimentional space, in which he was already inclined to
believe. His whole thought was directed to that point.

6. Professor Scheibner thinks that the mental disturbance under which
Zoellner suffered later, might be regarded as, at this time, incipient.
He became more and more given to fixing his attention on a few ideas,
and incapable of seeing what was against them. Towards the last he was
passionate when criticized. Professor Scheibner would not say that
Professor Zoellner's mental disturbance was pronounced and full-formed,
so to speak, but that it was incipient, and, if Zoellner had lived
longer, would have fully developed. Zoellner himself, "whose brothers
and sisters frequently[A] suffered from mental disease, often feared
lest a similar fate should come upon him."

[Footnote A: "Dessen Geschwister mehrfach" etc.--the words may be taken
in two senses.]

7. Professor Scheibner gives no opinion on Spiritism. He can only say
that he cannot explain the phenomena that he saw.

8. Professor Weber, said Professor Scheibner, "attended the
Zoellner-Slade experiments under the same circumstances as he
(Scheibner) himself."

9. Professor Zoellner's book, said Professor Scheibner, would create the
impression that Weber and Fechner and he agreed with Zoellner throughout
in his opinion of the phenomena "and their interpretation;" but this, he
said, is not the case.

HALLE a.S., _July 5th_, 1886.

So much for the information given by Professor Scheibner. It now
remained to see Professor Wilhelm Weber, and on the evening of July 12th
I called upon him at his house in Goettingen. Of his statements I took
notes during my conversation with him, as in the former instances, and
copied and arranged them the same evening at my hotel. Professor Weber
is now eighty-three years old, and does not lecture. He is extremely
excitable and somewhat incoherent when excited. I found it difficult to
induce him to talk slowly enough, and systematically enough, for me to
make my notes. Professor Weber said:

1. That he thought the things he saw in the séances with Slade were
different from jugglery.

2. That he did not think there was time or opportunity for Slade to
prepare deceptions.

3. That he himself knew nothing of jugglery, nor did Professor Zoellner.

4. That he can testify to the _facts_ as described by Zoellner, and that
he could not himself have described the occurrences better than they are
described in Zoellner's book:--to the _facts_ he is willing to testify,
the _means_ he declares unknown to him, but does not regard jugglery as
a sufficient explanation. If another can understand, he said, how
jugglery can explain the facts, well and good--he can not.

5. That he had never seen anything of the kind before, and has not
since; it being his only experience of Spiritualism.

6. That he had the greatest freedom to experiment and set conditions,
and that the conditions were favorable to observation.

7. That he regarded Professor Fechner as one of the best observers in
the world, and Professor Scheibner as an excellent observer.

8. That Professor Zoellner _was not_ at that time, in any sense, in an
abnormal mental condition.

Professor Weber seemed unwilling to speak decidedly on the subject, but
showed that he leaned to the Spiritistic interpretation of the facts. He
said that the things done indicated intelligence on the part of the

Having now before us the testimony given by these survivors of the
famous investigation, I will collect briefly the facts relating to each
of those concerned--adding in one or two cases from other sources--and
point out the nature and value of their testimony to the occurrences
recorded by Professor Zoellner.

1. As to Professor Wundt, who is by profession an experimental
psychologist, and an observer. Professor Wundt did not regard the
investigation, so far as he participated, as in any respect thorough or
satisfactory. The conditions of observation were not present. When
called upon by Professor Ulrici to describe the occurrences as he saw
them, he said he would not willingly describe what he had not had
opportunity to observe.

2. As to Professor Zoellner, the chief witness and author of the book
published, a number of points are worthy of note.

(1.) The question of his mental condition at the time of the
investigation. It is asserted by Baron Hellenbach (see _Geburt und Tod_
etc., Wien, 1885, S. 96) that Zoellner was of sound mind up to his
death. The statement should have due weight, but the author's general
attitude towards Spiritism should not be overlooked. I do not consider
his testimony for Zoellner's sanity as good as that of Fechner or
Scheibner against. Of the four men mentioned as connected with him,
Wundt, Weber, Fechner and Scheibner, three (all except Weber) are
decidedly of the opinion that his mental condition was not normal. The
opinion of Wundt, as of a man whose profession would not permit him to
speak hastily upon this topic, I would regard as of special value; but
if we rule that out upon the ground that Wundt was not impressed by the
investigation, and might naturally be inclined to underrate Zoellner,
who was, we have left the opinions of Fechner and Scheibner, both
Zoellner's colleagues at Leipsic, both particular friends of Zoellner,
and both inclined to agree with him as to the reality of the facts he
describes. Both of them regarded Zoellner at the time as of more or less
unsound mind. His disease, as described by them, seems to have been
chiefly emotional, showing itself in a passionate dislike of
contradiction, and a tendency to overlook any evidence contrary to a
cherished theory.

To the general change in his nature due to his disease Professor
Scheibner testifies; and Professor Fechner's belief as to his mental
condition is specially worthy of note from the fact that, although
recognizing it to be abnormal, he still holds his powers of observation
to be sound, and upon this ground is inclined to assent to the facts
described. If anyone could be tempted to make Zoellner as sane as
possible, it would be one in the position of Professor Fechner.
Professor Weber's testimony I will examine later. Upon the question
whether the peculiar form of Zoellner's disease would be likely to
affect his powers of observation, the following points may throw some

(2.) It is evident, both from what Zoellner has himself printed and from
what Professor Scheibner has said, that Zoellner's interest in the
investigation centered in his attempt to prove experimentally what he
already held to be speculatively true as to a fourth dimension of space.
In a paper published in the _Quarterly Journal of Science_, for April,
1878, he says:

"At the end of my first treatise, already finished in manuscript in the
course of August, 1877, I called attention to the circumstance that a
certain number of physical phenomena, which, by 'synthetical conclusions
_à priori_' might be explained through the generalized conception of
space and the platonic hypothesis of projection, coincided with
so-called Spiritualistic phenomena. Cautiously, however, I said:--'To
those of my readers who are inclined to see in Spiritualistic phenomena
an _empirical_ confirmation of those phenomena above deduced in regard
to their _theoretical_ possibility, I beg to observe that from the point
of view of idealism there must first be given a precise definition and
criticism of _objective reality_'" etc. Now this reference to
Spiritualistic phenomena was made before Zoellner had seen anything of
the kind, and his attitude was evidently a receptive one. Moreover, we
have Professor Scheibner's testimony to the fact that during the whole
investigation his attention was entirely directed towards the subject of
the fourth dimension, and an experimental demonstration of its
existence. Bearing in mind, therefore, the mental attitude in which, and
the object with which, Zoellner approached this investigation, we cannot
look upon any subjective, or emotional, mental disturbance, which
results, as described, in making him narrow his attention more and more
upon a few ideas, and disregard or find it difficult to observe what
seems contrary to them, as without objective significance, particularly
where we know the man to be a total stranger to investigations of such a
nature as this one, and not only quite ignorant as to possible methods
of deception, but unwilling to doubt the integrity of the Medium.

(3.) There are things in Zoellner's own accounts which indicate a
certain lack of caution and accuracy on his part, and tend to lessen
one's confidence in his statements. As an instance of inaccuracy, I may
mention the statement he makes in his article in the _Quarterly Journal
of Science_ as to the opinions of his colleagues. Professor Zoellner

"I reserve to later publication, in my own treatises, the description of
further experiments obtained by me in twelve séances with Mr. Slade,
and, as I am expressly authorized to mention, in the presence of my
friends and colleagues, Professor Fechner, Professor Wilhelm Weber, the
celebrated electrician from Goettingen, and Herr Scheibner, Professor of
Mathematics in the University of Leipsic, who are _perfectly_ convinced
of the reality of the observed facts, altogether excluding imposture or

Here the attitude of the four men is not correctly described, and
Professor Zoellner's statement does them injustice, as Professor
Scheibner remarked. At least two of the men were merely _inclined_ to
accept the facts, and to these two the words "_perfectly_ convinced"
will not apply.

As one out of numerous instances of lack of caution, I may refer to
Zoellner's statements, that at certain times writing was heard upon the
slates, giving no proof whatever to show that the writing was really
done at the time of hearing the sounds, and apparently quite ignorant
of the fact that deception may readily be practiced on this point.

3. As to Professor Fechner. The fact is admitted that he was, at the
time of the investigation, suffering from cataract, which made all
observation extremely defective. Moreover, he was present at but two of
the sittings, and has stated that he did not regard these as very
decisive. His attitude towards the phenomena described is based on his
faith in Professor Zoellner's powers of observation, and not on what he
saw himself. He does not, therefore, as an independent witness would,
add anything to the force of Professor Zoellner's testimony.

4. As to Professor Scheibner. His position is simply that he cannot see
how the whole series of phenomena can reasonably be attributed to
jugglery, though he admits that each single thing he saw, alone
considered, might possibly be. He does not regard himself, however, as
able to give an opinion which should have objective value; because he
was merely a passive spectator, and could not, properly speaking, make
observations--could not suggest conditions,--because he knows absolutely
nothing about jugglery, and the possibilities of deception, and because
he is so short-sighted that he may easily have overlooked something of
importance--so short-sighted that he never goes to see a juggler,
because he sees nothing.

5. As to the last witness, Professor Weber, his testimony agrees more
decidedly with that of Professor Zoellner. He was present at eight
séances, declares the occurrences to have been as represented by
Professor Zoellner, and denies that Zoellner was in any sense insane.
But Professor Weber is from Goettingen, and was at the time of the
investigation in Leipsic on a visit; it is not improbable that those of
Professor Zoellner's colleagues, who lived and worked at the same
University with him, may have had better opportunities for judging as to
his mental condition than one who only saw him occasionally. Moreover,
Professor Weber's opinion as to the qualifications of the men with whom
he was associated does not seem to have been always sound. One who could
look upon Professor Fechner as one of the best observers in the world,
and Professor Scheibner, as for the purpose in hand, an excellent
observer, neglecting entirely to note that one was partly blind and that
the other could not see well, might readily overlook the fact of a not
very pronounced mental aberration on the part of a third person. And as
to Professor Weber's opinion of the phenomena, it is well to note that
Professor Weber was seventy-four years old at the time, had had no
previous experience in investigations of this kind and was quite
ignorant of the arts of the juggler. Whatever may be a man's powers of
reflection at seventy-four, it is natural to suppose that his powers of
perception, especially when exercised in a quite new field, are not at
that age what they were some years previously.


Thus it would appear that of the four eminent men whose names have made
famous the investigation, there is reason to believe one, _Zoellner_,
was of unsound mind at the time, and anxious for experimental
verification of an already accepted hypothesis; another, _Fechner_, was
partly blind, and believed because of Zoellner's observations; a third,
_Scheibner_, was also afflicted with defective vision, and not entirely
satisfied in his own mind as to the phenomena; and a fourth, _Weber_,
was advanced in age, and did not even recognize the disabilities of his
associates. No one of these men had ever had experiences of this sort
before, nor was any one of them acquainted with the ordinary
possibilities of deception. The experience of our Commission with Dr.
Slade would suggest, that the lack of such knowledge on their part was

A consideration of all these circumstances places, it seems to me, this
famous investigation in a somewhat new light, and any estimate of
Zoellner's testimony, based merely upon the eminence in science of his
name and those of his collaborateurs, neglecting to give attention to
their disqualifications for this kind of work, cannot be a fair or a
true estimate.

In concluding this Report, I give sincere thanks to all of these
gentlemen for their courtesy and frankness--a frankness which has alone
made it possible for me to collect this evidence; and which, considering
the nature of the evidence, must be regarded as most generous. To
Professor Scheibner, especially, my thanks are due for the trouble he
has taken in helping me to make my notes exact and truthful.


       *       *       *       *       *


In 1884 rumors reached me of remarkable Spiritual communications from a
revered friend and relative, Dr. Hering. These communications had come
through a slate-writing Medium by the name of Patterson, and were
received by two gentlemen whose names I am not at liberty to mention,
but whom I will call A. and B. Both were prominent men, and both had
become thorough believers in Spiritualism after several sittings with
Mrs. Patterson. A. claimed to have received personal benefit from
medicines thus prescribed, and learned the circumstances of his son's
death which had occurred in some mysterious manner far away from home.
B. has since died, and communications under his signature have come
through this same Medium.

The manifestations in this province of Spiritualism, Independent
Slate-Writing, would seem to be of a nature more tangible and direct
than those of so-called Materializing or Trance Mediums, and, therefore,
in this instance I determined to test to the utmost what had been
reported to me concerning communications from one who stood so near in

Although I received a number of messages at my first visit, written in
pencil, in many different handwritings, which the Medium alleged were
written by Spirit-control of her hand, I received but one or two in the
slate. The slate was a small double slate, joined together with hinges,
about 10 inches by 12 inches in dimension. Inside of the slates, written
on a slip of paper, carefully folded, I placed the question "Can I
obtain a communication from Dr. Hering which will be characteristic of
himself?" A small piece of slate pencil chipped from an ordinary pencil,
perhaps an eighth of an inch long, was placed within the slates,
together with the written question. The slates were then tightly screwed
together at the open end, by myself, with the blade of an old knife
which was at hand to serve the purpose of a screwdriver. It was then
placed by the Medium in her lap, under the table, one hand, the left,
resting upon the slate, the other hand remaining on top of the table,
writing, with a lead pencil, messages in different handwritings, on

These messages came in characters bold as John Hancock's, and in
chirography as small and neat as the writing of Charlotte Bronté, whose
manuscript the compositor is said to have deciphered with the aid of a
magnifying glass; and between these extremes were a dozen or more styles
as varied and marked as one could wish. The purport of these messages,
which were written rather quickly, and without perceptible thought or
hesitation, changing from one handwriting to another without the least
apparent difficulty, was in some instances the veriest twaddle, while
others contained tolerably good sense, even in language rather above the
Medium, unless appearances were misleading, for she looked the
embodiment of ignorant simplicity, and spoke far from grammatically.

The table at which we sat was a very ordinary little sewing-table,
without any drawer or compartment, and before sitting down I examined it
top and bottom, a privilege freely accorded. We had sat about ten
minutes when the Medium brought up the slate with the little piece of
pencil, which I had scratched with a knife for identification, lying on
top of the slate. The screw was in its place, seemingly as I had put it.
I was requested to remove the screw, which I did, and found written
across the inside surface of one of the slates the words "I will try to
accede to your wish," signed with the initials of my departed friend, to
whose handwriting it was not dissimilar. I was much puzzled by this
answer, I confess, and immediately placed within the slates another
question, this time addressed to the name of another deceased friend.
Again I screwed up the slates with my own hand, and kept my eyes riveted
on the hands of the Medium as well as my position would permit, without
getting up and bending over the table. I did not have long to wait
before an answer came as before, again signed with the initials of the
person addressed. How the writing came in the slate I could not surmise.

The following are specimens of the communications which were written by
the Medium's controlled, possibly self-controlled, free, right hand, at
my first visit:--

(In a fine, light, legible hand.)

Cannot say wether we can control the slate or no. will do our utmost to
do so there are times when we cannot get the proper influences nor find
the right conditions. C HERING

(In a close, heavy hand.)

we have quite as much power over you as over any other medium,
mediumistic forces are not confined to a few, but exist to some extent
in all. be patient we will do what we can. H

(In a sprawling back hand, the same as a subsequent one, signed Thomas

The friend you have asked for is here and will do what he can to comply
with your wish it is not necessary that you should sit with any medium
to convince yourself of this truth you have enough of this power to get
almost any sort of manifestations you should ask for they will develope
without any effort on your part but you can materially assist them


(In a neat and precise feminine hand.)

There stands by thy chair a venerable man who had passed through many
years of work in his profession on the earth plane he is one that doth
influence and impress thee to do many things when in the body was a
phisician of the homeopathic school he sayeth that he doth feel the same
interest in the progruss of the medical fraternity as when in the body.
appeareth to be one of strict integrity and ranked high as a thinker
thou hast many years to stay in the form and through thee a work will be
completed that none other can do


(In a small, rather indistinct feminine hand.)

I dont think the doctors knew what my trouble was. I know if doctor
Hering or Raue had treated my case I would still be in my body but its
no difference as far as I am concerned I have found this life far the
best leaving my mother was hard, but now I know how to get back to her I
am content


Clara Swencke

(In a plain masculine hand.)

if you prepare a slate the doctor will give you a message on it in his
own handwrite and one characteristic of him


(In a small, rather illegible hand.)

My friend Tiedemann made a mistake in the medicine he prepared for me he
never for a moment thought it would prove anything but a help but it had
the effect of sending me to the higher life


(In a large, generous, open hand.)

Yea if thee dost fix a slate so as to satisfy thyself thy friend will
write on it and give thee a description of his birth into everlasting


(In a very indistinct feminine hand.)

cannot say wether we can procure the presence of any one just now that
can write music were it possible to have any one conversant with it they
could not only write one but many notes for you

(Signature indistinct.)

(In a small, cramped hand of almost microscopic fineness supposed to be
Charlotte Bronté, and occupying but very little more space than on this
printed page.)

The future holds much for you of success, the later portion of this and
the whole of the next will be filled with prosperity you have a band of
the more advanced spirits about you and were you to follow your first
impressions you would never fail in your judgment


(In a clear scholarly hand.)

a man of few words when in the body I still have the same peculiarities
will with your permission become one of your guiding band


(In a bold masculine hand).

Sit for ten or fifteen minuets two evenings in the week and thus help
perfect the powerful gifts you have, through them you can do much good
both for others and yourself


(In the same hand as a preceding communication signed TL)

Be patient; the party that wrote on the slate before is trying to do it
over we sometimes have a difficulty in doing this


(In a slow, labored, uncouth hand.)

I know one thing and that is that they didn't make any headway in
killing me when they hung me nor even when they scooped my brains out
afterward--damn the doctors--damn the preachers--I hate them all they
lied to me preachers priests and all they told me it was all right but I
have found out its all wrong. I havent seen Mrs Reed nor do I want to I
never was sorry that I killed her, it don't make a saint out of a man to
send him out the way I had to go--its only killing--they were as bad as
I was--I cant see--its dark


[Footnote A: McGinnis was a murderer recently hung for the brutal
killing of his mother-in-law. Particulars of the murder, execution and
autopsy were in all the local papers.]

(In an ordinary feminine hand.)

Put a piece of paper on a stand place a pencil on it and I will try to
make the scale for you at home there is a power that is growing on you
that will enable me to do this in a few times of trying I could write my
own hand this is my first time of coming here so that makes it harder
for me to get control


(This doggerel came in answer to a question whether the Spirits could
write poetry, and is in a hand not dissimilar to the preceding
communication, although the signatures differ.)

    When the clear bright sun was shining
      Then they took my cherished form
    And they bore it to the church yard
      To consign it to the worm

    Well no matter that was only
      The clay dress your loved one wore
    God had robed her for an angel
      She had need of this no more

    Though the tears fell fast and faster
      Yet you would not call me back
    Nay be glad her feet no longer
      Tread life's rough and thorny track

    Yes be glad the father took her
      Took her whilst her heart was pure
    Oh be glad he did not leave her
      All life's trials to endure


(In a sprawling hand.)

Your friend has lost the Control I cannot say wether it will be possible
to regain it now or no I find it hard work to get any hold at all.


(Each letter distinct, as a child would print the alphabet.)

Chief there cant come any answer the magnetic current is broken for want
of power we go now but will come in your own wigwam


       *       *       *       *       *

At the following séances I received slate writings repeatedly. Sometimes
the slate would scarcely be in the Medium's hands before a message
appeared, each time with the little pencil on top. I was told that I was
an excellent Medium, that, if I cultivated the faculty, would soon
myself be able to obtain these slate writings. I was also asked to
prepare a slate secured in any way I wished, and had the promise that a
message would be written within it. I acceded to the request and took a
slate of my own, tied it up in every direction with twine, and put my
private seal upon it in several places where I had knotted the string.
This slate the Spirits could not overcome. I never received the promised
message. I never even had the slate returned to me. After remaining in
the Medium's possession for several months, she having changed her
residence in the meantime, she told me the slate had disappeared and
somehow must have gotten lost in moving. At any rate the slate had been
spirited away somehow. I will here mention that at about the third or
fourth sitting I asked permission to watch the slate while it was under
the table, which was freely granted, but on this occasion, and whenever
I did so, there were no results.

On one occasion we took the trouble to bring Mrs. Patterson to a room in
the house of our departed friend. She was here among a small circle of
intimate friends and members of the family, some inclined to belief and
others skeptics. She failed utterly to obtain as much as even a scratch
inside of the slates, although communications on paper came thick and
fast. I may mention that on this occasion several persons sat with the
slate continually in full view.

I had almost decided to drop Mrs. Patterson and her slate writing,
although reluctant to do so, because I had no certain and positive
evidence of fraud with which to confront my friend, who was getting
impatient at my slowness in accepting all I had seen, when I resolved to
push my investigations to a point of certainty, one way or another, and
hit upon the little scheme of going prepared, at my next visit to Mrs.
Patterson, with a mirror in my pocket which I could hold under the table
at an angle that would reflect whatever occurred on the other side of
the table, in the Medium's lap, the accustomed position of the
mysterious slate. The sitting was held in broad daylight, and the table
was so placed that the Medium was seated with her back to a window,
affording sufficient light for the experiment. I purposely avoided
removing my overcoat on this day, because I wished to hide my movements
as much as possible, and sat down at my side of the table with
considerable misgiving as to the result of taking liberties with the
Spirits. The Medium this time had on her table a new slate, a larger
one, one which she said had belonged to the celebrated Slade who had
himself received messages on it. She said her old slate was broken,
which was probably true; when I had last seen it it was in a battered
condition. She asked if it would make any difference to me if she used
the new slate. The only apparent difference between the slates was that
this one was larger and did not close with a screw, therefore, thought
I, more easily manipulated; consequently I did not withhold my consent.
I wrote upon a slip of paper my question, "Will Dr. H. advise me what
to do for Juliet (an old colored patient)?" I folded over the slip of
paper five times, put it in the slate with a small stub of pencil, and
down the slates went into the lap of the Medium where I could see them,
lying plainly reflected in my little mirror which I had slipped out of
my pocket and laid across my knees at the proper angle of reflection.

Mrs. Patterson first wrote a letter-sheet full of alleged Spirit
communications, and handed them to me across the table for perusal. I
took the sheet with one hand and while ostensibly scanning the written
page, with the other hand I carefully adjusted my little mirror, on
which my downcast and watchful eyes were fixed, when lo! in the mirror
_I beheld a hand_, closely resembling that of the Medium, _stealthily
insert its fingers between the leaves of the slate, take out the little
slip, unfold and again fold it, grasp the little pencil_, which had
rolled to the front while the slate was tilted that way, _and with rapid
but noiseless motion_ (had there been the least noise from the pencil,
it would have been drowned by the fit of coughing, which, at that
instant, seized the Medium) _write across the slate from left to right,
a few lines; then the leaves of the slate were closed, the little pencil
laid on the top_, and, over all, two hands were folded as if in
benediction. The woman opposite me, to whom the hands belonged (unless
they were Spirit hands) sat with uplifted eyes, a calm expression of
innocence upon her face. After holding the slates so for a moment or
two, and after calling to the Spirit friends "to come and _please_ write
in the slate," she produced them, saying, "It has come!"

Of course, I did all I could to master my indignation, which, at that
moment, was extreme, and quietly opening the slates, I read the message
pretending to have come from high authority, "The channels are
obstructed, give Arsenic, Bryonia and Pulsatilla in succeeding doses, an
hour apart!" The last words were somewhat illegible, and Mrs. Patterson
suggested another trial; she thought the Spirits would write it plainer.
Again the slates went down; _again I saw the hand at work as before_.
This second time the hurriedly written message was not much plainer than
the first. Mrs. Patterson, who was better versed in deciphering Spirit
dispatches than I, offered to read it for me, but remembering that "all
good things are three," I requested a third trial. After this last
experiment, in which again, _for the third time, in my little mirror, I
saw the stealthy fingers write on the slate_, I told the Medium I was
satisfied, smothered my indignant anger, and left the house as quickly
as I could. For the larger part of a year I had investigated in good
faith this department of Spiritualism, which, in this Medium's case, had
turned out a downright fraud.

Not long after my last interview with Mrs. Patterson it was my good
fortune to meet with an _unprofessional_ Medium, a young gentleman of
reputed honor and veracity, to whom I was introduced by a friend who had
known him from childhood, and vouched for his honesty. This young man's
Mediumistic abilities had begun to develop with the planchette, and had
reached the stage in which a drum and sundry musical instruments were
played behind a curtain where he sat entranced, with his hands tightly
bound together by a handkerchief or cord. These séances were continued
with regularity on certain nights in the week, and were confined
strictly to the family circle and to a few privileged friends. There
was, therefore, no temptation to deceive for gain. I came into the
circle as an observer, not as believer, but was impressed by the
phenomena witnessed at the first séance in which the Medium was under
Indian control. There were strange sounds, guttural tones and whoops
which really might have emanated from a wild son of the forest. A drum,
an accordion, a zither, a mouth-organ were all played upon. The
drumsticks kept time to music, rapped on the wall, appeared above the
edge of the curtain several times, brightly illuminated, as if dipped in
electric light or some phosphorescent substance. As I have said, I was
impressed, and might have ended in complete conversion, by
manifestations from so trustworthy a source, and vouched for in such
perfect sincerity, had it not, in an unlucky moment, occurred to me to
apply a little harmless test.

The test consisted simply in putting a dab of printer's ink on one of
the drumsticks at the very last moment before the séance began. The
result could not prove physically injurious to the Medium, who had
challenged investigation, nor to any one in the circle. The result was
startling. Being accorded the privilege of tying the Medium's hands, I
proceeded to do so with a stout cord, using a certain knot which I
believe has never been known to slip or come undone. This accomplished,
and while some one else fastened the Medium securely to his chair, with
his back to the instruments on the table, the ink, concealed in a
pocket-handkerchief, was applied. In this position we left the Medium,
the lights were lowered and the music began. Soon were heard the deep
breathings preceding the trance, then the 'Indian' began to manifest, at
first somewhat sullenly, as if not pleased with the conditions, some of
the instruments sounded, and at last the drumsticks began their tattoo.
At the close of the séance, when the curtains were drawn and the lights
turned up, the Medium was found in his chair with his hands still tied,
but great was the astonishment of everyone present at the marvelous
condition of the Medium's hands. How in the world printer's ink could
have gotten smeared over them while under control of 'Deerfoot, the
Indian,' no one, not even the Medium, could fathom.

I believe there is an explanation for these or similar phenomena, but I
must leave it to the ingenious and adroit expounders of Spiritualist


       *       *       *       *       *


At my very first séance, as a member of this Commission, I was told by
the Spirit of Elias Hicks, through Mrs. Patterson, that I was gifted by
nature with great Mediumistic power. Another Medium, with whom I had a
session shortly afterwards (I cannot remember his name, but he
advertised himself as a great 'Australian Medium'), professed himself
quite unable to exert any power in the presence of a Medium so much more
powerful than himself. 'Father Holland,' the control of Mrs. Williams,
in New York, assured me that I merely needed development to have
Spiritual manifestations at my own home; and Joseph Caffray was so
emphatic in his assertions of my extraordinary Spiritual capabilities,
that I began to think that it was my duty to quicken these dormant
powers and not to let them 'fust in me unused,' and if successful, when
I had become fully 'developed,' I could offer myself to my fellow
Commissioners as a _corpus vile_ on which every experiment could be
made, and at a great saving of expense.

Spiritualists constantly reproach investigators of Spiritualism with
faint-heartedness and lack of patience; they allege that at the very
first rebuff all investigating ardor cools, and that one failure is
deemed sufficient to condemn a whole system.

If the case be really thus, the Spiritualists have a show of reason for
this objection, and it behooves the Seybert Commission to give no ground
for it.

After much deliberation I decided to put myself in the hands of Caffray
for 'development.' I preferred this Medium, first, because he was the
most emphatic of all in his assertion of my almost unrivaled Mediumistic
powers, and in his confidence that indications of Spiritual growth would
be manifest in three or four weeks, and at the end of six weeks or of
two months I might celebrate my Spiritual majority by slatefuls of
messages; and, secondly, Mr. Hazard assured me again and again that
Caffray was the 'greatest Medium in the country;' and did not Mr.
Hazard, by way of proof, show me a stoppered vial containing a card, on
which, through Caffray's Mediumship, a message had been written while
the closed vial was fast held in his closed hand?

The first step was the purchase of two slates from Caffray, for which I
gave him several dollars. They were common enough to look at, but ah!
they had been for months in his Materializing Cabinet and had absorbed
Spiritual power to the point of saturation, and fairly exuded it. I
brought them carefully from New York, and folded them in black muslin,
and laid them away in a dark drawer.

Caffray told me that with a beginner the Spirits found it somewhat
easier to write with French chalk than with slate pencil. So I bought a
box of a dozen pieces, such as tailors use.

The instructions which I received from Caffray were to keep these slates
carefully in the dark, and every evening at about the same hour to sit
in total darkness, with my hands resting on them for about a half or
three-quarters of an hour; to maintain a calm, equable, passive state of
mind, even to think of any indifferent subject rather than to
concentrate my thoughts too intently on the slate-writing. There could
be no question of the result. A Medium of my unusual and excessive power
would find, at the end of three weeks, faint zig-zag scratches within
the closed slates, and these scratches would gradually assume shape,
until at last messages would be legible, probably at the end of six
weeks, or of three months at the very farthest.

In addition to this, I must wear, night and day, a piece of magnetized
paper, about six inches square, a fresh piece every night and morning;
its magnetism was exhausted in about twelve hours. When I mentioned to
Mr. Hazard the proposed use of this magnetized paper, he assured me that
it was a capital idea--that he had himself used it for a headache, and
when he put it on the top of his head 'it turned all his hair backward.'
I confess to dismay when I heard this; Caffray had told me that I must
wear this paper on the top of my head under my hat! But did it not
behoove the Acting Chairman of the Seybert Commission to yield himself a
willing victim to the cause of Psychical Research? Was to be, or not to
be, a Medium so evenly balanced that the turning of a hair, or of a
whole head of hair was to repel me? Perish the thought! That paper
should be worn on the top of my head, under my hat, and that hat should
be worn all day long. I would eat my breakfast with that hat on, eat my
dinner with that hat on, and sleep with that hat on, and that magnetized
paper should remain on the top of my head, let it turn my hair to all
the points of the compass, if it would!

When I received the slates from Caffray he had no paper that was
sufficiently magnetized just then; he had some sheets that were about
half done, and promised to send them to me as soon as the process was

In the meantime I began with the slates, sitting with them in total
darkness from about a quarter past eight to nine o'clock every evening,
with my hands resting on them lightly.

In three or four days the paper arrived. I explained to my family that
hereafter they must not infer, from the wearing of my hat indoors and at
meals, either that my wits had slipped, or that I had become converted
to Judaism, but that my conduct was to be viewed by the light of the
pure flame of research. In my secret soul I resolved that I would go at
once, that very morning, to New York and plead with Caffray for some
slight easing of my ordeal. The 'Spectre of the Threshold' appeared to
wear a silk hat, and I was afraid I never, never should pass him.

The magnetized paper I handled with awe. It was, in outward semblance,
ordinary white blotting paper, and, from some faint indications of ink
here and there, looked as though it might on occasion have served its
original use; but had I not paid a dollar a sheet for it? It must be

As I started for the train I put a piece on the top of my head, gave a
fond, farewell look at my hair, and planted my hat firmly on my brows. I
reached the train, and while looking for a seat caught sight of my
friend, Miss W----. Of course, I instantly bowed, and instantly there
came fluttering down before her astonished and bewildered eyes a piece
of blotting paper. I snatched it hastily, and in terror lest I had
already broken the charm and forfeited all chance of Mediumship, retired
to the rear of the car and furtively replaced the precious pad.
Decidedly I must see Caffray at once.

Luckily, when I reached New York I found that eminent Medium at home,
and, 'bonneted,' rehearsed to him my dread anticipations. He could not
repress a grim laugh, and to my inexpressible relief gave me permission
to wear the paper suspended round my neck next the skin.

With those precious slates I sat every night, at the same hour, in
darkness. I allowed nothing to interfere with this duty; no call of
family, of friends, of society, was heeded. At the end of three weeks I
searched every molecule of the slate for the indication of a zig-zag
line, but the surface was unsullied, and its black monotony returned
stare for stare.

Still hopeful and trustful I continued, day by day and week by week. The
six weeks expired. Not a zig, nor a zag. Caffray was kept busy
magnetizing paper. I renewed my stock and determined to push on to two
months. I moved to the country and carried my slates thither, wrapped in
double folds of black muslin. The days and weeks rolled on. Two months
passed. The slates were as clean as when they came into my possession. I
would go on to three months. Does not a hen sit for three weeks? Where
a hen gives a week, shall not I give a month? Is not a Medium worth more
than a chicken?

'Courage!' cried Caffray, with each batch of paper. I went to the
seashore and my slates went with me. Not a single evening did I break my

And so it went on. The three months became four; became five; became

And there an end, with absolutely virgin slates.

I had used enough blotting paper, it seemed to me, to absorb a spot on
the sun. I dare not calculate the number of hours I had spent in

Let Spiritualistic reproaches of investigators for lack of zeal and
patience be heaped up hereafter till 'Ossa becomes a wart;' I care not;
my withers are unwrung.

_Punch_ gives a receipt for making 'Gooseberry Fool:' 'Carefully skin
your gooseberries, extract the seeds and wash the pulp in three waters
for six hours each. Having done this with the gooseberries, the Fool is


       *       *       *       *       *


Readers of the Spiritualistic literature of the present day cannot fail
to have their attention frequently called to the remarkable power
attributed to certain Mediums, not only of reading the contents of
envelopes which are securely gummed and sealed, but of returning to the
questions therein contained pertinent answers from friends in the other
world. It is far from uncommon to hear of conversions to faith in
Spiritualism wrought by these remarkable proofs of Spiritual power. At
this hour, in many a loving home, responses to letters, thus sealed and
answered through these Mediums, are treasured as tenderest, completest
proofs that love survives the grave and still encircles the living and
the dead.

Recognizing in this phase of Mediumship a department of Spiritualism
capable of plain, matter-of-fact investigation, which could be conducted
in writing and demanding no special powers of observation, the duty of
investigation devolved mainly upon the Acting Chairman.

There are only four of these special Mediums whose advertisements I have
seen in Spiritual papers. He who has probably the widest reputation is
Dr. James V. Mansfield, Boston. A second is Mr. R.W. Flint, New York
City. A third is Mrs. Dr. Eleanor Martin, Columbus, Ohio; and lastly,
also of the same name, Mrs. Eliza A. Martin, of Oxford, Massachusetts.

Through the Mediumship of the first, I have seen it stated that upward
of a hundred thousand securely sealed letters have been answered; and
the names of men high in our business and financial world have been
cited to me as of those who had received proofs of his power which could
not be questioned, nor explained on any other ground than that of
clairvoyance, or of Spirit communication. To him, therefore, I concluded
to apply first.

The choice of a subject whereon to communicate with a denizen of the
other world is not easy. To follow in the well-trodden path and ask
after the welfare of departed friends would only end, I well knew, in
turning on that stream of generalities, not glittering, but very dull,
in which a large experience had taught me that disembodied Spirits
chiefly delight when expatiating on the conditions of their changed
existence. Furthermore, it was desirable that from the investigation
should be eliminated all elements of thought-transference or of
mind-reading. I must select a subject on which my own mind was a blank,
and where the responses would have to be definite and unambiguous, and
withal quite within the scope of Spiritual knowledge.

At last, as fulfilling, in all honesty and sincerity, the requisite
conditions, a skull in my possession was fixed on.

This skull is a relic, interesting from its dramatic associations. It
has been used for fifty or sixty years as a 'property' at the Walnut
Street Theatre, whenever 'Hamlet' has been performed, and as 'Yorick's
skull' has been handled in that play, from Edmund Kean down to Henry
Irving and Edwin Booth. It is preserved with care, and mounted on a
piece of polished black marble. Surely here is a skull whose experiences
are singular above all ordinary skulls, and in whose career its original
owner might be not unreasonably expected to cherish some interest or to
have followed its fortunes with some little attention. Untold
possibilities for the vindication of Spiritualistic truth and power hang
around it, should there be an unwavering agreement by all Spiritual
authorities, as to the circumstances, when alive, of its original owner.
Surely, I concluded, the translated inhabitants of the 'summer-land'
cannot have doffed the homespun honesty of mortal life; all will either
confess ignorance with regard to this skull, or display their
truthfulness by a substantial harmony in their reports, and thereby
furnish an indisputable, irrefragable proof of the truth of

Sincere in this trust, I wrote on a small sheet of paper this question:
"What was the name, age, sex, color or condition in life of the owner,
when alive, of the skull here in my library? 28 February, 1885." This
paper was put in an envelope, whereof the flap was then gummed to within
a small distance of the point, under this point some sealing-wax was
dropped, and enough was added above it to form a large, heavy,
substantial impression. At the four corners additional seals, with
different impressions, were placed. Thus gummed, and sealed with five
seals, the envelope was enclosed to Dr. J.V. Mansfield, with a request
that it be subjected to his Mediumistic power.

In a few days the following was received:

'Boston, March 2d, 1885.

Dear Furness.--Your package came duly to hand most respectfully say I
have given the package two sittings and re'd from two different spirits
(purported) answer one coroberating [_sic_] the other statement One from
Robt Hair [_sic_] the other from Dr B. Rush for the two communicates my
charge is 5.00 which if you will send me per registered mail I will
remit you per return mail Respfy J.V. Mansfield I judge from the com. it
relates to a skeleton.'

With this letter the sealed envelope was returned, apparently in exactly
the same state in which it had been sent; the seals were intact, with
the exception perhaps of a few trifling fractures, for which the transit
to and from Boston, through the mail, would readily account. Upon closer
inspection, however, and upon turning the envelope so as to catch the
light, I thought that a slight glazing of gum was discernible around the
central seal, and from beneath its edge a minute bubble of mucilage
protruded. The fee demanded was at once forwarded, and by return of mail
the following 'communicates' were received, written in pencil on long
strips of common paper, and in two different hands:

Dear Furness.--Yours of 28 Feby before me--as to this matter under
consideration I have looked it over and over again Called my old friend
Geo Combe and we are of the mind it is the skull of a female--Combe says
he thinks it was that of a Colored woman--the age--about 40 to 44 the
name of the one who inhabited it--it would not be possible for any
spirit but the one who the skull belonged to If it was colored--Cornelia
Winnie might know. Respfy ROBT HARE Mch 2 '85.'

In a larger, bolder hand on the second slip was the following:

'My dear Townsman--pardon what may seem an intrusion--but seeing your
anxiety to get the Aage [_sic_] sex--col and name of a skull in your
office and seeing the conclusion that Dr. Hare and Proffr Combe have
arrived at--I will say that I have looked the same over and fully concur
in their conclusion save in the color of the one who once annimated
[_sic_] that skull. Fowler Spurzeheim [_sic_] and Gall agree in saying
that Hare and Combe have nothing to base an opinion upon, as to the
color--yet in sex they agree Yours with Respect


Exact age could not be determined. Mch 2 '85'

These answers are certainly remarkable. The very words of the question
inside the sealed envelope are here openly repeated, and although the
six eminent, scientific ghosts, Hare, Combe, Fowler, Spurzheim, Gall,
and Rush do not agree with each other on all points, yet a slight
divergence, or contrariety, in opinion is at times observable to the
grosser eyes of flesh among doctors upon earth; and then they were all
in accord over the sex of the skull, in which problem, having one
chance out of only two, they could not go very far afield. Moreover, the
very framing of the question as to sex might suggest female, and as to
color might suggest black.

But had not the envelope been opened?

It occurred to me to cut the edges of the sealed envelope carefully,
whereby I could examine the flap, on the inside. It was done. The paper
of the envelope under three of the seals was torn, and deception stood
revealed. The seals had been cut out, and restored to their position
with mucilage.

Although, in legal phrase, I might rest my case here, yet I was anxious
so to seal an envelope that while its contents could not be extracted
without the destruction of the envelope and a betrayal of any attempted
fraud, yet that an answer to the question enclosed should be quite
within the clairvoyant power, so called, of the Medium, if he really
possessed any, and as to the existence whereof I was sincerely anxious
to obtain some satisfactory proof. Animated with this desire, I
proceeded as follows:

In the 'communicate' from the Spirit of Dr. Hare, reference is made to
Cornelia Winnie's possible knowledge of the information which I was
seeking in regard to the skull. Could this have been a lure to tempt me
to knock again at the Spiritual door of which Dr. Mansfield is the

At any rate I accepted the suggestion. On a sheet of note-paper I wrote:

'Can Cornelia Winnie, or any other Spirit (Dr. Hare refers me to the
former), give me any particulars of the life or death of the colored
woman who once animated this skull here in my Library. I am entirely
ignorant myself on the subject.'

This was folded, placed in an envelope, gummed and sealed precisely as I
had folded, gummed and sealed the previous letter. This I marked with
ink on the outside 'No. 1.'

On another sheet of similar note-paper I repeated word for word, and
line for line, and dot for dot, the very same question. This paper was
also folded and put into an envelope, BUT two or three stitches of red
silk were then passed through the flap of the envelope and the enclosed
paper, sewing the two securely together; these stitches were made at the
point of the flap, and again at each of the four corners. Over these
stitches, and concealing them, seals of red sealing wax were affixed.
Exteriorly the two envelopes were precisely alike. The stitched envelope
was marked on the outside 'No. 2.' As the contents of both were
identical, a clairvoyant Spirit that could answer No. 1 could answer No.
2, but nothing less than superhuman power could extract the paper from
No. 2 without so tearing the envelope as to betray an un-Spiritual
origin. These two envelopes were enclosed to our Medium with the
following note:

'Dear Doctor Mansfield. The answers to my sealed letter were so
satisfactory and so very curious that I should like to follow up the
interesting subject, if I am not taxing your powers too heavily. I
therefore enclose two more sealed envelopes, marked No. 1 and No. 2. If
it be possible, I should like to have you sit with No. 1 first. If the
Spirits respond, pray send me word and let me know how much I am
indebted to you.'

My object in asking the Medium to sit first with No. 1 was that, if he
were fraudulent, finding the ease with which No. 1 could be opened, he
would undertake the opening of No. 2 with such freedom and assurance
that the envelope would be torn beyond the healing power of mucilage,
and a confession of failure would have to follow.

In a few days the envelopes were returned with the following brief note:

'Dear Furness: Send you what came to your P K the 2d gave no response my
terms are $3 for each trial--warrant nothing.



The Spiritual communication enclosed reads as follows:

'I Bress de Lord for deh one mor to talk to de people of my ole home I
been thar lots o tim since I com here--but o Lord de Massy--they no see
_Winne_ cos she be ded and she jus no ded at tall--now--as to dot Col
gal--_Hed_ I could not say--sure--but I think it Dinah Melish--she who
lov de Lord too. I think it seem Dina top not. Will see Dina som time
and then i ask her--do you no Minister Du Cachet well he here--and want
the [there here follows in the original a rude drawing of a decanter and
wine glass. In this scandalous allusion there is no trace, it will be
observed, of phonetic spelling in the proper name] just de same. I Bress
de Lor I don't want it.

March 13, '85.

Cornelia Winnie.'

An examination of the envelope marked No. 1, by cutting it open at the
edges, revealed the same story of fraud: three of the seals had been cut
out, and replaced.

An examination of No. 2, in the same way, readily disclosed the reason
why the Spirits had failed to answer, although the question assuredly
presented no greater difficulties than in No. 1. An attempt had been
made to start two of the seals, but meeting with unexpected resistance
in the silk stitches, and finding that further effort would end in
tearing the envelope in a very palpable and mundane fashion, the Spirits
had grown disheartened and taciturn.

We shall meet this Medium again, but for the present we will leave him,
after pausing for a minute over his business card, which, after stating
his terms in prosaic dollars and cents, thus apostrophizes his

    "From the bright stars,
    And viewless air
    Sweet Spirit, if thy home be there,
    Answer me.--Answer me."

Happily my experience enables me to remove all doubt as to the locality
of the Spirit's 'home,' and to state with positiveness its exact
location. But like the German philologist's example of the remarkable
incongruity in English between spelling and pronunciation, that what was
written 'Boz' was pronounced 'Charles Dickens,' so I cheerfully add to
this list of incongruities that what is written 'bright stars' is
pronounced 'Boston,' and 'viewless air' is pronounced 'Dartmouth

I next turned my attention to Mr. R.W. Flint in New York. From him I
received the following circular in answer to my inquiries:


     I am controlled by one spirit, purporting to be my guide who is the
     scribe for the spirits, delivering (in his own hand-writing) what
     is dictated to him by the spirit of communicating.

     I am in a normal (not trance) state, but unconscious of the

     My hand is moved to write from right to left (backwards),
     independent of my will.

     By holding the written side up to the light, the answer can be

     The spirit-letters should be SECURELY sealed, addressed to the
     spirit, giving his or her name in full, and signed by the writer's
     name in full; but no address on the envelope.

     When left open they cannot be answered, my agency being efficient
     only when my mind is passive, and blank to both questions and

     Put your questions clearly, directly, briefly. The mixed and many
     kinds defeat the object of the investigator.

     I have my photograph for sale, exhibiting my Spirit Guide's hand
     and arm, or form of control; taken while answering a sealed

[The terms here follow, with honorable notification that the money is
returned in all cases when the letters are not answered.]

It will be noted that this Medium's 'Spirit-guide' requires the names in
full of both Spirit and writer; I was, therefore, forced to select a
Spirit who knew not only me and my ways, but also the high value that is
placed on that skull. Mindful that eminent Spiritual authority had
pronounced this skull to be that of a colored woman, I decided, after
deliberation, to address the Spirit of W---- H----, a colored servant,
who had lived over forty years in one family a faithful, blameless life,
and who, when he died, carried with him the respect and regards of the
entire household, and whose widow and daughters still survive in honest,
humble life, and to whose ears this apparent freedom with their
husband's and father's name will never reach. Accordingly, the following
note was addressed to the Spirit world:

'Dear W---- H----. Can you tell me anything about the owner, when alive,
of the skull here in the Library? You remember how anxious I have always
been to have my ignorance on this score enlightened. Have you any
message to send to your wife, M---- F----? Are you happy now? Your old
friend, Horace Howard Furness.'

This letter was put in an envelope, which was gummed and sealed with
five simple seals, without the impenetrable stitches of silk, and
enclosed with the fee to Mr. Flint. It was received again in a few days
with this note:--'Dear Sir--I gave your sealed Spirit-letter three
sittings and regret to state that I have been unable to get an answer.
My Guide at each sitting wrote and said, the Spirit called upon is not
present to dictate an answer.' The fee was also returned.

An examination of the envelope by cutting at the edges, as in the
previous experiment, showed that the 'Spirit arm' of the Guide of Mr.
Flint had not the nerve of Dr. Mansfield. I was at a loss to know why it
stopped; it was going along in the removal of the seals very nicely; to
be sure the paper was tearing perilously near where the rent could be
detected from the outside, but with only a little more of Dr.
Mansfield's pluck, and the Spirit of W---- H---- would have been
present, and the fee pocketed. However, from whatever cause, whether
fright or repentance, the 'flighty purpose was o'ertook,' and the Medium
supposed that a little mucilage would 'clear him of the deed.'

Next I turned to Mrs. Eleanor Martin, in Columbus, Ohio. Without writing
a fresh letter, I sent her the same letter to W---- H----, which had
been returned to me from Mr. Flint, and the envelope was sealed in the
simple easy way with five seals, but no silk stitches.

To this came the following response:

'Columbus, Ohio, March 25th, '85.

... Please find enclosed your sealed letter, also the messages, and my
terms. I learn from the messages, your letter was written upon the
Spiritual topic. My terms being $1.00. But in your case I find the
messages are at a greater length than many and according to request of
the Spirit "Belle" I paint the little white rose as her nature. Most
truly, Eleanor Martin.

First message, written by one of my Guides in Spirit for the following


    In earth life I was tall and fair
      With jet black eyes and golden hair
    Eyes that sparkled with mirth and song
      And whose hair in curls one yard long.

    Ah but many sad years ago
      My life was burdened with woe
    But the seens [_sic_] through which I passed
      Are now with gladness overcast.

    I was born in your earth to await
      The coming of a cruel fate
    Yes, I a true and loving wife
      But mine was a sad darkened life.

    Oh a life which seemed to last
      To me the future, as the past,
    And as the lone hours drifted by
      My only prayer, Oh could I die.

    Cruel is the assassins hand
      Yet so many are in your land
    Day by day as a fearful flood
      Hearts have flowed in tears of blood.

    My own the pain, I could not tell
      But I can say I know full well
    My soul ne'er found sweet peace one day
      And with earth I could no longer stay.

    My form was sold to doctors three
      So you have all that's left of me
    I come to greet you in white mull
      You that prizes my lonely skull.

    I can cause you many bright hours
      Strew your path in purest flowers
    For your kindness tendered me
      I will _always_ guard and guide thee.

    You may call me your Sister Belle
      My other name I ne'er can tell
    They tell me it is for the best
      To let earth's troubles be at rest.

    Tis _I_ who have often raped [_sic_]
      In your quiet room have taped [_sic_]
    And have impressed on your mind
      Many inquiries of me so kind.

     By Blind Harry for a beautiful lady who gives the name Belle.


    To my Dear friend Horace

    Horace you wonder if all is well
      Yes, I'm more happy than I can tell
    For sorrow and trouble does not last
      But like a sweet dream goes gliding past
    In a smooth path of eternal day
      Where dawns for each a perpetual May.

    Dear M---- tell her, and family too
      That I am ever to them most true
    And I daily guide her tender feet
      Where'er she goes upon the street
    That she has my love forever more
      I understand her more than before.

    Oh! yes this bright and eternal space
      Fills each true soul with love and grace
    There is nothing like earth's crimes so vile
      No frown wreathes the face but a sweet smile
    And which glides along, to one and all
      Greeting old, and young, gay, and small.

    The bright spirit world is everywhere
      And to each is appointed some care
    To guide earth's children on their way
      Amid the poor, as well as the gay
    We dwell in fields of labor and love
      Guiding thousands in true relms [_sic_] above.

    Many things I would love to rehearse
      Which would be written for me in verse
    But so many are here to await
      Their joyous messages to relate
    Many friends with me are ever near
      To guide our brother Horace dear.--

    By Blind Harry.

     For a gentleman who gives his name W---- H----.'

The sealed envelope scarcely needed to be opened at the back for
interior inspection; its exterior bore ample and all-sufficing evidence
that the seals had been broken, and the gum softened; the fingers which
had again pressed down the gummed edge were not as unsullied as 'Sister
Belle's' white rose.

This communication from the Spirit world gave me pause. Here was food
for reflection. It settled many points in dispute among the scientific
Ghosts. First: they were all right on the question of sex; but Hare,
Combe and Cornelia Winnie were wrong as to color. Sister Belle is not a
negress, her hair is not black and in kinks, it is golden, and its curls
are three feet in length, moreover, a _white_ rose is her emblem. And
what a sad domestic tragedy have I not here unearthed. In reading
between the lines of these verses we learn that what darkened the life
of this true and loving woman was a mercenary husband, and that this
husband survived her, and in his unhallowed greed sold her body, and
this, too, at so exorbitant a price, that it required the united purses
of three doctors to induce him to close the bargain.

Secondly: by the message from W---- H----, that most sedate and
respectful of all respectful colored servants, the moralist may learn
anew the truth that Death is a leveller of all distinctions. Not even
when the Emperor Charlemagne appeared at a Materializing Séance in a
dress-coat and standing collar, and apologetically remarked that 'Kings
leave their ermine, sir, at the door of the tomb,' not even then was
this great truth driven so profoundly home as when W---- H---- greeted me
by my Christian name, and hailed me 'brother.'

Need it be added that I gratefully remitted to Medium Number Three a
double fee, and do yet consider myself many times her debtor? Her
gratitude to me found expression in another outburst of song.

Had the identity of the original owner of the skull been my sole object,
I might well have rested content. I had found the owner, and she had
claimed her own. She was 'Sister Belle,' and confessed to that rare
combination of golden hair with black eyes, like Lady Penelope Rich, Sir
Philip Sydney's first love. But my duty as a member of this Commission
compelled me to complete my investigations, and make application to the
fourth and last Medium for answering Sealed Letters.

As I have stated, this Medium is also a woman, and resides in
Massachusetts. Her circular directs the sealed letters to be 'well
sealed or stitched, so that they may not be opened until returned.'

To this Medium, Mrs. Eliza A. Martin, Oxford, Mass., was sent the same
letter to W---- H---- that had been sent to her predecessor, of the same
name, in Columbus, and it was put in an envelope, merely gummed and
sealed, without the silk stitches.

Within a few days I received the following note, enclosing my sealed
envelope: 'A message awaits your order from W---- H----. Please state if
you recognize Mrs. M.F.H.--Several friends came and that name was
mentioned.... There are some words in an unknown tongue.'

The minute that I looked at the returned envelope, I felt like standing
uncovered, as in the presence of genius, a genius before which Mediums
One, Two and Three paled. Nothing could excel the unsullied virginity of
the seals, or of the gummed spaces between them. I felt that I must
proceed with the utmost caution. With a very sharp penknife I then began
to cut the edge of the envelope at one end. Scarcely had the knife been
drawn very slowly more than the half of an inch before it became
manifest that the edge of the envelope presented more resistance than
the simple fold of paper would make. I stopped and examined the severed
edges. Very delicate but very distinct traces were visible of a thin
mucilage, perhaps of rice-water or of diluted gum-tragacanth. How
exquisite and how light are the touches of ethereal, Spiritual fingers!
After all the trouble with my seals, when, emulating Dr. Watt's _Busy
Bee_, so neat I spread my wax,' it was beginning to dawn upon me that
clairvoyant eyes, quite as much as our own, require Heaven's broad
sunshine on black ink and white paper.

The transmission of the fee brought in a few days the following:

'Dictated by the Spirit of W---- H----.

To H.H. Furness. I found things very different here from what I
expected. I think that is almost the universal experience. The half has
not been told, nor can it ever be, for no language known to humanity can
convey any definite knowledge of the mysteries of the Spiritual Life.

I remain the same toward you and all my earthly friends. Am with you
frequently. Was present in your Library with you one day recently. I
send my love to M---- F---- and to all others who knew me in earth-life.

A friend whom we both know and respect will pass over to this side
before long.

Will come to you again.'

I cannot but think that all will agree in estimating this communication,
with its adroit generalization, and in its general tone as superior to
any thus far received. On another sheet of paper was written:

'There is a Spirit Friend present, who gives the name of Marie St.
Clair. Earth-life had not much pleasure for her, and a course of
dissapation [_sic_] and sin resulted in an untimely death. Born of
French parentage, and inheriting some of the peculiar characteristics of
that people might perhaps furnish some excuse. This Spirit says
furthermore, you have something which once belonged to her in your

      "Behold this ruin, 'tis a skull
       Once of etherial spirit full--"
    "Par quel ordre du Ciel, que je ne puis compendre
       Vous dis-je plus que je ne dois?"

Here is evidently 'a spirit of no common rate,' of whom we might well
desire further acquaintance, albeit at the cost of losing golden-haired,
black-eyed Sister Belle. But why should we talk of 'loss?' If, as Banquo
says, 'there's husbandry in Heaven,' why should we not in the
'Summer-land' find one and the same skull, with frugal economy, given to
two owners?

Desirous of submitting the mother-wit of this Medium to the test of
stitched envelopes, I wrote the following:--'Is Marie St. Clair pleased
in having her skull carefully treasured here in my Library? Does it
gratify her, as a Spirit, that it is mounted on black marble? Does she
ever hover over it?'

This was placed in an envelope, gummed, and sealed with five seals in
the ordinary, easy-going way, and marked No. 1.

The very same questions were repeated on another piece of paper and put
in an envelope, which was stitched securely with silk, the stitches
passing through both the envelope and the paper, and carefully concealed
under the sealing wax. This was marked No. 2, and in the note
accompanying these two envelopes, the Medium was requested to sit with
No. 1 first. The Test was the same as that to which Dr. Mansfield had
been subjected, and to which he had succumbed.

The mail soon returned both envelopes, with this note:--'The reply comes
to us in the affirmative to both envelopes. There is quite a
communication for you from same Spirit Friend.'

A close examination of the edges of the envelopes soon revealed the edge
at which they had been opened and closed again. That edge has been
preserved intact for future verification, if required, and the envelopes
were opened by cutting the other edges. The seals had not been removed;
as, in fact, there was no need of removing them. The paper containing
the questions had not been extracted from No. 2; it still remained
firmly stitched to the front of the envelope. Yet the Medium had
evidently read it. Her words are 'the reply comes in the affirmative to
both envelopes,' which is a good, fair answer. I was puzzled, it must be
confessed. Suddenly it occurred to me to try how far one could look into
the contents of the paper, supposing the end of the envelope to be open.
I tried it, and lo! enough can be easily read to make out that No. 2 is
a repetition of No. 1. The needle had missed taking up all the folds of
the paper!

The communication from Marie St. Clair, which accompanied these
envelopes, runs thus:--'To H.H. Furness. Your kindly nature has often
drawn the Spirit of Marie to your side. I consider myself indebted to
you for certain acts which you will understand. Not that the poor
inanimate thing which you have so kindly treated, is of itself of much
account, but your kindness has often drawn me to your side in moments
when you little dreamed I were near. Had I met in material existence one
like yourself my past might have been far different. In this beautiful
life, the sources and courses of all earthly misfortunes and sins appear
to us like a figure seen in a dream. The lowest plane of Spiritual life
is as much superior to earthly existence as sunlight is superior to
starlight. From Marie St. Clair. Please inform Mrs. Martin why you so
carefully preserved the skull, and where you obtained it, and all you
know about it, and oblige yours truly, E.A. Martin. There is an acrostic
upon your name waiting for you here from Marie.'

If the fair and frail Marie appears somewhat cautious in direct
allusions to her skull, and to her 'earth-life,' it is certainly to her
credit that she seems to have retained no taint of mercenary greed. She
made no demand or reference to a fee, and a second letter had to be sent
to her Medium to learn the amount of my debt. This is her reply:--'Your
kind favour came duly to me, and as your message to your Spirit Friend
was delivered previously, that is, as soon as it was written, I had no
further effort to make than to convey the following to you:

'Amants, heureux amants, voulez-vous voyager! Que ce soit aux rives

Patience, je n'en ai pas quand je suis si près et si loin de vous.

Ah! tout ce qu'il y a dans le coeur de crainte, de douleur, de
desespoir, j'ai tout deviné; tout souffert, je puis tout exprimer
maintenant surtout la joie. Adieu! Marie St. Clair.'

Here end my investigations into the power of Spirits to answer sealed

In every instance the envelopes had been opened and reclosed; it is
therefore scarcely necessary to add that every instance has borne the
stamp of Fraud.

There is yet one other dark chapter, perhaps the darkest of all, which
my duty compelled me to read.

I began with Dr. Mansfield, in Boston; let me end with him there.

In addition to the answering of sealed letters sent to him by mail, this
Medium exercises his Mediumistic powers on questions propounded to him,
or rather to the Spirits through him, at his own home.

His method of work, as described by several highly intelligent
observers, is somewhat as follows:--There are two tables in the room of
séance, at one of which sits the Medium, at the other the visitor. The
visitor at his table writes his question in pencil at the top of a long
slip of paper, and, after folding over several times the portion of the
slip on which his question is written, gums it down with mucilage and
hands it to the Medium, who thereupon places on the folded and gummed
portion his left hand, and in a few minutes with his right hand writes
down answers to the concealed questions; these answers are marvels of
pertinency, and prove beyond a cavil the Clairvoyant or Spiritual powers
of the Medium. So remarkable are the results of this phase of
Mediumship, that through them and through the high standing and
intelligence of those who believe in him, this particular Medium is a
tower of Spiritualistic strength. Examine my informants as narrowly as
possible, there appeared to be no possibility of fraud. The impression
had gradually deepened in my mind that here is an instance of genuine
Spiritual power. But the fraudulent character of his dealings with the
sealed letters made me fear that _falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus_.

On the 14th of May, 1885, I called on Dr. Mansfield at his house, No. 28
Dartmouth Street, and was ushered into the second story front room--a
bedroom. There were, I think, three front windows looking on the street;
at the farthest was the Medium's table, so placed sideways to the
window, and close to it, that the full light fell on the Medium's left
hand, as he sat at it, and faced the middle of the room. In front of the
Medium, as he sat at the table with his back to the wall, were the usual
writing materials, lead pencils and mucilage bottle, and beyond them, on
the edge of the table farthest from the Medium, and between him and the
rest of the room, was a row of books, octavos, etc., extending the whole
length of the table and terminating in a tin box, like a deed box, with
pamphlets on it. When the Medium sits at his table, this row of books is
between him and his visitor. The table for the visitor is a small one,
near one of the other windows and six or seven feet from the Medium. On
this table were a number of strips of paper and a pencil.

The Medium, who did not ask my name, bade me take a seat at the small
table and write my question on one of the strips of paper, and then to
fold down the paper two or three times.

I sat down and wrote, "Has Marie St. Clair met Sister Belle in the other
world?" I then folded that portion of the strip of paper down three
times, and told the Medium that it was ready for the mucilage; he came
over from his table at once with a brush of mucilage, and spread it
abundantly under the last fold. Then, taking the strip between his thumb
and forefinger, he walked with it back to his table, keeping it in my
sight all the time. As soon as he took his seat and laid the strip on
his table before him, I rose and approached his table, so as to keep my
paper still in sight; _the row of books entirely intercepted my view of
it_. The Medium instantly motioned to me to return to my seat, and, I
think, told me to do so. I obeyed, and as I did so could not repress a
profound sigh. Why had no one ever told me of that row of books? The
Medium did not sit in statue-like repose, but moved his body much, and
his arms frequently; his hands I could not see, hidden as they were,
behind the row of books. After a minute or two the Medium looked up and
said, 'I don't know whether I can get any communication from this
Spirit,' a remark which a long experience with Slate-Writing Mediums has
taught me to regard as a highly favorable omen, and as an indication
that they have read the question and are now about to begin the little
game, in which I always take much interest, of experiencing great
difficulty in obtaining the 'rapport,' as they term it. Dr. Mansfield
frowned, shook his head and assumed an air of great doubt and
perplexity. I was certain that there would be now an ostentatious
display of the strip of paper, and sure enough, in a minute more the
Medium, strip in hand, came over to my table, and shook his head
ominously. He placed his left hand on the portion of the strip
containing my question, and began tapping on it with his forefinger.
'Pray, tell me,' I said, 'is that motion of your forefinger voluntary or
involuntary?' 'It's my telegraph to 'em,' he replied, 'getting 'em to
come.' 'I don't want to weary you,' I rejoined, 'but if that tapping
will bring them, _do_ keep it up! I cannot tell you how anxious I am to
hear from this Spirit.' He paused, and then made some marks, like
cabalistic signs, which are still to be seen on the paper. Then the
tapping was resumed. Then more cabalistic signs were made. At last he
said, 'Put your left foot against mine, and your left knee against mine,
and hook your forefinger into mine, and pull hard.' I did so. 'Stop,' he
cried, 'is it Maria?' 'Yes,' I replied, 'that's it, she is called
"Marie." It's Marie!' 'I have to go by the sound,' he rejoined. We then
pulled forefingers again. 'Stop,' he cried, 'is there a "Saint" about
it?' 'Yes,' I answered, 'St. is the first part of the next name! I have
so longed to have her come to me.' Dr. Mansfield arose, gathered up the
strip and returned to his table. I could go now unopposed and stand by
him while he wrote the following: 'I am with you my dear Bro but too
xcited to speak for a moment have patience brother and I will do the
best I can do to control. Your sister

Marie St. Clair.'

The change in kinship, and its novelty, staggered me somewhat; clearly
they manage things differently in the 'Summer-land.' However, I mastered
my emotion. 'And now,' I said, 'for the great question,' and was going
hastily to my table to write it. 'Stop,' said the Medium, 'you're too
excited to ask that question now. Put some other questions first. Then
when you are calmer put the important question.' (A clever stroke! He
did not know enough of me or of Marie to answer _anything_ definitely--a
few intermediate questions might furnish him with many a clue.) 'But, my
dear sir,' I cried, 'what _can_ I ask about? I have but one thought in
my mind; _that_ engulfs all others. If I don't ask that, I shall have to
ask Marie if she minds this pouring rain, or some twaddle about the
weather.' 'Well, well, you'd better ask it then, and get it off your
mind, and we'll see how far Marie can answer it.' (Here let me recall
that stanza in Sister Belle's communication wherein she says:

    "My form was sold to doctors three
    And you have all that's left of me," etc.)

I sat down at my table and wrote: 'Is it really true that Sister Belle's
body was sold to three doctors?' I folded it down, carried it to the
Medium's table, watched him gum it, and still remained standing at his
table, but he immediately and peremptorily waved me to my seat. Again
were his hands and my strip of paper, with its _freshly gummed_ fold,
completely hidden from sight, behind the row of books. Again the
Medium's arms moved. He turned to the window and hastily pulled down the
shade. This puzzled me. There was no sunshine to be excluded, it was
raining fast outside, the day was unusually dark, and he needed all the
light he could get. I turned and looked out of my window, and there in
the house just across the narrow street, at a window on a level with
ours, and commanding a full view of the Medium's table, sat a woman
sewing, with another, I think, standing by her. 'Bravo!' I thought, 'are
not the four Cardinal virtues, Temperance, Justice, _Prudence_ and
Fortitude?' and then resumed my watch inside. Dr. Mansfield finished
writing, and then held up the slip as though for a final revision before
handing it to me. A toothpick which he had in his mouth worked
energetically from side to side, and he gravely shook his head as in
perplexity. 'I don't like this,' he ejaculated at last, 'I don't want to
give it to you. There'll be trouble here. It's very serious. Better let
me tear it up.' 'Let me see it,' I cried, 'I promise you I'll be calm,'
and I took the strip from his fingers and read:

'Dear Brother--I fear such was the case--but--I could not say who--I
have consulted Dr. Hare--and the far famed Benja Rush, and they agree
that the body is not in the earth--I fear darling Belle's body--is in
process of being--wired. Marie St. Clair.'

The last word was not, I thought, quite legible, so I appealed to the
Medium, and when he solemnly said 'wired,' the utterance with which I
greeted it he probably thought was a groan, and, indeed, from the
borderland of laughter, I did try to push it over into the land of
tears, as hard as I could.

My third question immediately followed: "Can you give me any information
as to where even a portion of the body is?" Again I was waved to my
seat, again my strip of paper and the hands were concealed, again the
arms were nervously moved. This answer I awaited with not a little
anxiety. Surely, surely, Marie St. Clair and Sister Belle would remember
that their joint skull was in my library. They had told me so, only a
few weeks before, and as that skull was known to be fifty or sixty years
old, and their united memory of it had lasted throughout those long
years, surely that memory would not desert them now. And Dr. 'Benja'
Rush, who had recently greeted me as 'townsman,' he was present and
surely he would come to the rescue of Spiritualism, and gladly seize the
chance to settle the question which he had once discussed with Combe,
and Gall, and Spurzheim by bringing forward the frail Marie and the
golden-haired, black-eyed Belle as tenants in common (and uncommon) of
the same skull. Moreover, I thought, are there not to be found in
Anatomical Museums skeletons of infants with one body and two heads? Why
may not this have been an instance of one head and two bodies? To be
sure, one of the bodies lived in Ohio and the other in Massachusetts,
but then when we have once started on a journey through the marvels of
Spiritualism, as portrayed by these four Mediums, what does such a
trifle as this amount to? I had, I reflected, in all seriousness, taken
no single step in the investigation of these Mediums that was not fully
authorized by the explicit statements received from the Mediums
themselves. I had accepted as truth what they told me was truth. If
Spiritualism is hereby wounded, it is wounded in the house of its own

At last my answer came: 'I am not allowed to divulge what _I_
think--much less what I know--it would be productive of more harm than
good--let them have it--it is but earth at best--they have not got _our_
precious Belle--she is safe in the Haven of Eternal repose--_I_ would
not make any noise about it--but let it pass--as a discovery of it would
give you pain rather than otherwise--Belle says let it pass--the
_triune_ that have it bought it without knowing whose it was, and such
care as little as they know.

Marie St. Clair.'

I felt that it was time that a conclusion should be put to this farce,
so humiliating in the thought that honest, unsuspicious, gentle men and
gentle women are daily deceived by it. Nevertheless, I wished to bring
the 'wheel full circle' to this Medium's Spiritual communications of
aforetime. I recalled that Cornelia Winnie's spirit had said that she
thought the skull was Dina Melish's 'top not.' My fourth, and last,
question therefore ran: 'Do you think that by any chance Dina Melish
would know?' To which the answer came: 'Well Brother, as to that She may
know more than She may be willing to divulge--you see, Brother, it
places Dinah in a very unpleasant position, _i.e._, should it be noised
abroad that she was in the secret. I do not by any means censure Dinah
for what she may know, if _know_ she does. You could xamine Dinah on
that point--carefully, not allowing her to suspect your object in so
doing. You might and might not elicit some light on the matter.

Marie St. Clair.'

14 May, '85.

After I had handed this last question to Dr. Mansfield a slight incident
enabled me, to my own satisfaction, to note the exact instant when he
read my question (he would say, 'clairvoyantly') behind his row of
books. He once lifted his eyes to mine, and met them full for an instant
in a piercing look. I do not think he suspected that I was his former
correspondent (I would have told him willingly who I was if he had ever
asked me), but the name 'Dina Melish' seemed to come back to his memory,
as one that he had heard but could not localize. Of course I knew that
he had just read my question.

I told him that these were all the questions I desired to ask him. He
exhorted me to be calm, and told me a cheerful story of a young girl's
having been recently buried alive, of which, I infer, the moral was,
that she would have found it more comfortable all round to have been
sold to the doctors. I paid him his fee and left.

In conclusion, let me add that we have by no means exhausted the lessons
which Spiritualism, in the hands of some of its votaries, can teach us.
To our purblind vision the joint ownership of one skull by two different
persons presents a physiological problem more or less difficult of
solution. But all difficulty vanishes as soon as 'the river is crossed.'
I derived no little comfort and much light from a Materializing Séance
which I attended shortly afterwards in Boston, where both Marie St.
Clair and Sister Belle appeared together, at the same time, and greeted
me with affectionate warmth. To my inexpressible relief they were each
well provided with skulls. They were more mature and matronly, I
confess, than my ardent fancy had painted them, and Sister Belle's
'golden curls one yard long' were changed to very straight black hair;
the golden hue which Sister Belle had herself ascribed to them must have
been due to the light in which she saw them, 'the light that never was
on sea or land.'

I was pleased to find that Marie's English was excellent, without a
trace of foreign accent. But this, and the matronly appearance, I
learned subsequently were presumably due to the age, shape and nativity
of the Medium through whom she materialized. For when Marie afterwards
appeared to me, as she did many times at another Medium's séances, her
appearance was quite youthful, with clustering brown curls low down on
her forehead, which when I once attempted to stroke I found to be full
of sharp pins; and to my expressions of gratitude that she should so
kindly appear to me, she lisped in broken English: 'I am viz you
olvays.' The present of an amber necklace, with the name 'Marie'
engraved on the silver clasp, obtained for me from her the written
expression of her pleasure that I had carefully preserved what I assured
her was 'the last thing on her neck before she passed over.' Need I say
that this document, in Marie's own handwriting, invests the skull with
even added interest?


       *       *       *       *       *


I think it would be difficult to find a psychological study more
interesting than that which is afforded by a Materializing séance. I
have never attended one that did not yield abundant food for reflection,
and present one problem, at least, too deep for any solution I can
devise. Although, perhaps, our first experience in such séances makes
the deepest impression, yet the novelty never wears off, nor can custom
stale its variety. The audiences are never wholly the same, and every
Medium has her own peculiar method.

In the cities where the Mediums reside, and where they hold their
séances on regular days throughout the winter, the audiences are by no
means composed only of those who go out of idle curiosity; these form
but a small segment of the 'circle,' the majority are regular
attendants, mostly those whose lives have been clouded by sorrow, and
who go thither as to a church or sanctuary, and so serious and earnest
is their deportment that I cannot imagine any temptation to open levity.
This unaffectedly religious character of these séances cannot fail, I
think, to strike even the most indifferent. The careful arrangement of
the visitors who are to compose what is termed the 'circle;' the nice
balancing of positive natures with negative natures, wherein the Medium
is guided by her delicate spiritual insight; the quiet hush; the
whispered conversation; the darkened room; the darker drapery of the
mysterious Cabinet, with its untold possibilities; the subdued chords of
the dim melodeon; the soothing tones of familiar hymns, in which all
voices join; the words full of assurance of a deathless life, of
immortal love, of reunion with earthly idols, not lost, but gone before
only a very little distance, and now present and impatient for the
Medium's trance to enable them to return radiant with love and joy--all
these conspire to kindle emotions deeply religious in hearts that are
breaking under blows of bereavement, and of such, as I have said, the
majority of the audiences are composed. Every effort is made by the
Mediums to heighten the effect. Before entering the Cabinet to undergo
her mysterious trance, the Medium generally makes a short address,
reminding the circle that this is a solemn hour, that here is the
forecourt of the world beyond, thronged with living Spirits, eager to
return, bearing visible, tangible assurance of immortality and of
enduring love, and that the mysterious agency, whereby they return, is
greatly aided by a sympathetic harmony in the circle, and so forth. The
Medium then enters the Cabinet; the curtains close; the light is
lowered; the organ sounds some solemn chords, gliding into the hymn,
'Nearer, my God, to Thee,' which all join in singing. At its close there
is a hush of anticipation; and that nature must be unimpressionable
indeed, that is not stirred when the dark, heavy folds of the curtains
of the Cabinet are discerned to be tremulously moving; and, as they
gently part, disclose a figure veiled from head to foot in robes of

If the return of the heavenly visitant would but end here, I think the
impression would be deeper and more abiding. The filmy, vague outline of
the white figure thoroughly harmonizes with all established, orthodox
notions of ghosts, and if this were all of the apparition vouchsafed to
us, we might, perhaps, have a harder problem to deal with than when the
Spirit actually emerges from the Cabinet with outstretched arms of
greeting. A substantial, warm, breathing, flesh and blood ghost, whose
foot-falls jar the floor, is slightly heterodox and taxes our credulity;
if hereunto be added an unmistakable likeness to the Medium in form and
feature, many traces, I am afraid, of the supernatural and spiritual

Mindful of our endeavour as a Commission, to have as many observers as
possible in cases demanding close observation, I never attended a
Materializing séance as a member of this Commission. Whenever I happened
to be personally known (and my ear-trumpet soon makes me a marked man),
that official capacity was unavoidably imputed to me, but I never
announced it nor claimed it. I was present merely as an observer on my
own account, with the intention of making arrangements, if practicable,
for séances with the rest of the Commission, if what I saw seemed to me
sufficiently remarkable to justify the expense, which experience, with
other Mediums in other lines, had taught me would be very considerable.
I therefore took no notes, and could at this late day only after much
difficulty furnish dates. Wherefore all that I propose in this
Memorandum is to give my own private conclusion, which is worth no more
than the conclusion of any other private individual, and to mention the
test to which I subjected all the Spirits whom I had the pleasure of
specially 'interviewing'; as this test can be applied by any one, at any
time, at any séance, it partakes of the nature of a general truth, which
does not need the support of dates, or names, or places to uphold it. I
suppose I have attended between twenty and thirty Materializing séances.

I do not hesitate to acknowledge that I have been throughout sincerely
and extremely anxious to become converted to Spiritualism. In whatever
direction my judgment is warped, it is warped in favor of that belief. I
cannot conceive of the texture of that mind which would not welcome such
an indisputable proof of immortality as Spiritualism professes to hold

In general, then, let me say at once and emphatically that I have never
seen anything which, in the smallest degree, has led me to suppose that
a Spirit can be, as it is termed, materialized. It is superfluous to add
that I never recognized a materialized Spirit; in only two instances
have any Spirits professed to be members of my family, and in one of
those two instances, as it happened, that member was alive and in robust
health, and in the other a Spirit claimed a fictitious relationship,
that of niece.

Of course this assertion applies only to those Spirits who materialized
especially for me. I do not pretend to answer for Spirits who came to
other people. All that I am quite sure of is that all the Spirits who
singled me out from the circle, and emerged from the Cabinet for my
benefit, were not only abundantly 'padded round with flesh and fat,' but
also failed utterly in any attempt to establish their individuality; and
moreover, in the instances where I had seen the Medium before she
entered the Cabinet, so closely resembled the Medium as, in my eyes, to
be indistinguishable from her.

It is, I confess, a very puzzling problem (it is, in fact, the problem
to which I alluded above) to account for the faith, undoubtedly genuine,
which Spiritualists have in the personal reappearance of their departed
friends. Again and again have I asked those who have returned, from an
interview with a Spirit at the Cabinet, to their seats beside me,
whether or not they had recognized their friends beyond a peradventure,
and have always received an affirmative reply, sometimes strongly
affirmative. I was once taken to the Cabinet by a woman and introduced
to the Shade of her dead husband. When we resumed our seats, I could not
help asking her: 'Are you _sure_ you recognized him?' Whereupon she
instantly retorted, with much indignation, 'Do you mean to imply that I
don't _know_ my _husband_?' Again, at another séance, a woman, a
visitor, led from the Cabinet to me a Materialized Spirit, whom she
introduced to me as 'her daughter, her dear, darling daughter,' while
nothing could be clearer to me than the features of the Medium in every
line and lineament. Again and again, men have led round the circles the
Materialized Spirits of their wives, and introduced them to each visitor
in turn; fathers have taken round their daughters, and I have seen
widows sob in the arms of their dead husbands. Testimony, such as this,
staggers me. Have I been smitten with color-blindness? Before me, as far
as I can detect, stands the very Medium herself, in shape, size, form,
and feature true to a line, and yet, one after another, honest men and
women at my side, within ten minutes of each other, assert that she is
the absolute counterpart of their nearest and dearest friends, nay, that
she _is_ that friend. It is as incomprehensible to me as the assertion
that the heavens are green, and the leaves of the trees deep blue. Can
it be that the faculty of observation and comparison is rare, and that
our features are really vague and misty to our best friends? Is it that
the Medium exercises some mesmeric influence on her visitors, who are
thus made to accept the faces which she wills them to see? Or is it,
after all, only the dim light and a fresh illustration of _la nuit tous
les chats sont gris_? The light, be it remembered, is always dim at
these séances, and it is often made especially dim when a Spirit leaves
the Cabinet. I think I have never been able at such times to read the
Arabic numerals on my watch, which happen to be unusually large and
pronounced. Unquestionably Spiritualists will be at no loss to explain
this puzzle; possibly they would say that I have here unconsciously
given one of the very best of proofs of the reality and genuineness of
Materialization, and that my unbelief acts on the sensitive, evanescent
features of the Spirit like a chemical reagent, and that--but it is not
worth while to weaken by anticipation their solacing arguments.

In any statement of this problem we should bear in mind all the
attending circumstances: the darkened room; the music; the singing; the
pervading hush of expectation; the intensely concentrated attention; the
strained gaze at the dark Cabinet and at its white robed apparitions;
and finally, the presence of a number of sympathizing believers.

There is another fact about these séances which I think cannot fail to
impress even the most casual observer, and this is the attractive charms
which the Cabinet seems to possess for the aboriginal Indian. This child
of nature appears to materialize with remarkable facility, and, having
apparently doffed his characteristic phlegm in the happy hunting
grounds, enters with extreme zest on the lighter gambols which sometimes
enliven the sombre monotony of a séance. Almost every Medium keeps an
Indian 'brave' in her cohort of Spirits; in fact, there is no Cabinet,
howe'er so ill attended, but has some Indian there. It is strange, too,
that, as far as I know, departed black men, who might be supposed to be
quite as unsophisticated as departed red men, have hitherto developed
no such materializing proclivities. It is, perhaps, even more strange
that while, in my experience, Italian Spirits neither understand nor
speak Italian, and French Spirits can neither comprehend nor talk
French, and German Spirits remain invincibly dumb in German, it is
reserved to Indian 'braves' to be glibly and fluently voluble in the
explosive gutturals of their own well-known tongue.

Before a séance begins, a thorough examination of the Cabinet is always
tendered, a privilege of which I very seldom avail myself, and hold to
be always superfluous, on the following grounds: First, if the Spirits
which come out of the Cabinet be genuine, it is of very small moment how
they got in, and no possible scrutiny of the material structure of the
Cabinet will disclose the process. Secondly, if the Spirits be
fraudulent, the Mediums are too quick-witted and ingenious in their
methods of introducing confederates into the Cabinet not to conceal all
traces of mechanical contrivance far too effectually to be detected in
any cursory examination. It is also to be borne in mind that much can be
done under cover of the darkness, which is sometimes total for a few
minutes before the séance begins, and also that the notes of the
melodeon are sufficiently deep and loud to drown not a little rustling.
If the Mediums are deceitful I have always felt that in any endeavor to
unmask them the odds are heavily in their favor. The methods are
manifold whereby confederates may be introduced into the Cabinet: from
above, from below, and, enveloped in black stuff, from back parlors,
rooms and closets. It is not what goes into the Cabinet which, in my
opinion, demands our scrutiny but what comes out of it; it is to the
Spirits to which all our tests should be applied, the Cabinet and the
Medium are quite secondary. Furthermore, it should be remembered that
those who sit nearest to the Cabinet are always staunch friends of the
Medium, or known by her to be perfectly safe and harmless.

Not infrequently a Materialized Spirit is seen to subside into the floor
between the folds of the curtains at the opening of the Cabinet, This is
termed 'de-materialization,' and not a little mystery is ascribed to it.
The mystery vanishes when we reflect how easy it is for a lithe and
active young woman so to bow down quickly, even to the very ground, as
to convey the impression, when her white garments are alone visible
against a black background, that she has sunk into the floor. I have at
times distinctly felt the faint jar caused by the Medium's falling
backward within the dark curtains a little too hastily. At times, when
the Spirit is wholly within the Cabinet, and visible only through the
parted folds of the curtain, the semblance of a gradual sinking is
obtained by simply uniting slowly the two folds of the black curtain,
beginning at the head and gradually closing them down to the feet; the
room is generally so dark that the dark curtain is indistinguishable at
a little distance, and the effect of slowly falling is admirably
conveyed. In one instance, where the Spiritual garments were not white,
but particolored (the Spirit was a Scotch girl and wore the tartan), the
effect of de-materializing was capitally given by the Spirit's standing
just inside the slightly parted curtains, and then allowing the whole
outer costume, even to the head-dress, to fall swiftly to the floor.
Perhaps the best effect in this line, that I have seen, was on one
occasion when a Spirit had retired within the folds of the curtain, but
apparently immediately reappeared again at the opening; she had been
habited somewhat like a nun with white bands and fillets around the head
and face; thus, too, was she clad at her reappearance, but, as I sat
quite close to the Cabinet, I perceived that the figure was composed
merely of the garments of the former Spirit, and that there was no face
at all within the head-gear. I am sure the omission could not have been
detected at the distance at which the rest of the circle sat. This
snow-white figure was allowed to sink very, very slowly, the dark
curtains uniting above it as it gradually sank, until only the oval
white head-dress around what should have been a face rested for a few
seconds on the very floor, and then suddenly collapsed. It was in the
highest degree ingeniously devised and artistically executed.

There are also various styles of appearing as well as of disappearing. I
think the very best and most effective of them all is where a Spirit
gradually materializes before our very eyes, outside of the Cabinet, far
enough, indeed, outside to give the appearance to a visitor directly in
front of rising up from the very centre of the room. A minute spot of
white, no larger than a dollar, is first noticed on the floor; this
gradually increases in size, until there is a filmy, gauzy mass which
rises fold on fold like a fountain, and then, when it is about a foot
and a-half high, out of it rises a Spirit to her full height, and either
swiftly glides to greet a loved one in the circle, or as swiftly retires
to the Cabinet. It is really beautiful, and its charm is not diminished
by a knowledge of the simplicity of the process, which, as I have sat
more than once when the Cabinet was almost in profile, I soon detected.
The room is very dark, the outline of the black muslin Cabinet can only
with difficulty be distinguished even to one sitting within six feet of
it; a fold of black cloth, perhaps five feet long and four feet wide, is
thrown from the Cabinet forward into the room, one end is held within
the Cabinet at about two or three feet above the floor, and from under
the extreme opposite edge, where it rests on the floor, some white tulle
is slowly protruded, a very little at first, but gradually more and more
is thrust out, until there is enough there to permit the Spirit, who has
crept out from the Cabinet under the black cloth and has been busy
pushing out the white tulle, to get her head and shoulders well within
the mass, when she rises swiftly and gracefully, and the dark cloth is
drawn back into the Cabinet. I always want to applaud it; it is

On one occasion, a Spirit tried this pretty mode of materialization, not
directly in front of the Cabinet, but at the side quite close to where I
sat. The Cabinet was merely a frame to which were attached black muslin
or cloth curtains, and a Spirit can emerge at the side quite as
conveniently as in front. Unfortunately this time, through some
heedlessness, the Spirit did not creep out of the frame-work with
sufficient care, and some portion of her garments must have caught when
she was only on her knees. I never shall forget the half-comic,
half-appealing, feminine glance as her eyes looked up into mine, when
she was only partially materialized and some plaguey nail had caught her
angel robe. It was very hard not to spring to her assistance; but such
gallantry would have been excessively ill-timed, so I was forced to sit
still while the poor _animula, vagula, blandula_, worked herself free
and arose unfettered by my side.

Perhaps this is as fitting a place as any to mention the test whereby I
have tried the Spirits who have come to me.

As this same lovely Spirit arose and looked graciously down on me and
held out her hands in welcome, I arose also to my feet, and peering
anxiously into her face, asked, 'Is this Olivia?' 'Yes,' she softly
murmured in reply. Then ensued the following conversation which I
reproduce as faithfully as I can. It was broken off once by the Spirit's
retiring into the Cabinet, but resumed when she again appeared to me.

'Ah, Olive dear, how lovely of you to materialize! Did you really want
to come back?' 'Very much, of course,' she answered. 'And do you
remember the sweet years of old?' 'All of them,' she whispered. 'Do you
remember,' I continued, 'the old oak near Sumner-place?' [A happy hit,
in the longitude of Boston!] 'Yes, indeed, I do,' was the low reply, as
her head fell gently on my shoulder. 'And do you remember, Olive dear,
whose names were carved on it?' 'Yes; ah, yes!' 'Oh, Olive, there's one
thing I want so much to ask you about. Tell me, dear, if I speak of
anything you don't remember. What was the matter with you that
afternoon, one summer, when your father rode his hunter to the town, and
Albert followed after upon his; and then your mother trundled to the
gate behind the dappled grays. Do you remember it, dear?' 'Perfectly.'
'Well, don't you remember, nothing seemed to please you that afternoon,
you left the novel all uncut upon the rosewood shelf, you left your new
piano shut, something seemed to worry you. Do you remember it, dear
one?' 'All of it, yes, yes.' 'Then you came singing down to that old
oak, and kissed the place where I had carved our names with many vows.
Tell me, you little witch, who were you thinking of all that time?' 'All
the while of you,' she sighed. 'And do you, oh, do you remember that you
fell asleep under the oak, and that a little acorn fell into your bosom
and you tossed it out in a pet? Ah, Olive dear, I found that acorn, and
kissed it twice, and kissed it thrice for thee! And do you know that it
has grown into a fine young oak?' 'I know it,' she answered softly and
sadly, 'I often go to it!' This was almost too much for me, and as my
memory, on the spur of the moment, of Tennyson's _Talking Oak_ was
growing misty, I was afraid the interview might become embarrassing for
lack of reminiscences, so I said, 'Dearest Olivia, that is so lovely of
you. There, be a good girl, good-bye now. You'll surely come and see me
again the next time I come here, won't you?' 'Yes, indeed, I will.' I
released my arm from encircling a very human waist, and Olive lifted her
head from my shoulder, where she had been speaking close to my ear, and

Marie St. Clair, who, on Spiritual authority as I have shown above,
shares the ownership with Sister Belle of 'Yorick's' skull in my
possession, has never failed to assent whenever I ask a Spirit if it be
she. To be sure, she varies with every different Medium, but that is
only one of her piquant little ways, which I early learned to overlook
and at last grew to like. She is both short and tall, lean and plump,
with straight hair and with curls, young and middle-aged, so that now it
affords me real pleasure to meet a new variety of her; but in all her
varieties she never fails to express her delight over my guarding with
care that which was 'the last thing on her neck before she passed over.'
I was extremely anxious to obtain a written acknowledgment of this
pleasure from Marie, and accordingly I took with me to one of the
séances a little trinket, and told the Spirit that I would give it to
her if she would just write down for me a few words expressive of this
pleasure, and, as she was disappearing into the Cabinet, I thrust a
writing-tablet and a pencil into her hand. Before the séance closed, she
reappeared to me, and handing me a paper claimed my promise. In full
faith I gave her the little breast-pin, and after the séance, to my
chagrin, I found the writing on the paper was not from her, but a
message from my 'father,' announcing that he had 'found the next life a
great truth,' which was, certainly, cheering, in view of the fact that
he was enjoying the present in so remarkably hearty and healthy a

For the next séance I provided an amber necklace, on whose clasp I had
'Marie' engraved, and when the Spirit of the fair French girl appeared,
I taxed her with her naughty, deceitful ways, and told her that I would
not give her the necklace, which I had brought for her, until she gave
me what I asked for, in her own writing. In a very few minutes she
reappeared and handed me a paper, whereon she had written: 'I am so glad
you have kept them so nicely, Your Marie.' (As her skull was shared by
Sister Belle, I suppose Marie was strictly logical, if ungrammatical, in
referring to it as 'them.') It was enough; in a few minutes after, Marie
reappeared wearing the amber beads glistening round her neck.

No sooner had I given the necklace than occurred another illustration of
the remarkable and amiable pliancy with which Materialized Spirits will
answer to any name with which they are addressed. The Medium who
conducted the séance came to me and said, 'There's a Spirit in the
Cabinet who says she's your niece.' Very thoughtlessly I replied, 'But I
haven't any niece in the Spirit world.' The instant after I had spoken,
I felt my mistake. You must never repel any Spirit that comes to you. It
throws a coolness over your whole intercourse with that particular
Spirit-band; no Spirit from it will be likely to come to you again. No
surface of madrepores is more sensitive to a touch than a Cabinet full
of Spirits to a chilling syllable of failure. To regain my lost
position, therefore, I said hastily, 'But can it be Effie?' (It was a
mere hap-hazard name; I know no 'Effie.') The Medium went to the Cabinet
and returned with the answer, 'She says she's Effie, and she wants to
see you.' Of course, I went with alacrity to where the curtains of the
Cabinet stood open, and there, just within it, saw a Spirit whom I
recognized as having appeared once before during the evening with Marie,
when the latter had materialized as a sailor-boy, and the two had danced
a Spiritualist horn-pipe to the tune of 'A Life on the Ocean Wave.' 'Oh,
Effie dear,' I said, 'is that you?' 'Yes, dear Uncle, I wanted so much
to see you.' 'Forgive me, dear,' I pleaded, 'for having forgotten you.'
'Certainly I will, dear Uncle, and won't you bring me a necklace, too?'
'Certainly, dear,' I replied, 'when I come here again.' I have never
been there since.

Thus is illustrated what will be, I think, the experience of every one
who cares to apply this test to Materialized Spirits. When the
investigator is unknown to the Medium, a Spirit materialized through
that Medium will confess to any name in the heavens above or the earth
beneath, in the world of fiction or the world of reality. Of course, it
would not do to ask a Spirit whether or not it were some well-known
public, or equally well-known fictitious, character. You would be
repelled if you should ask a Spirit if it were 'Yankee Doodle,' but I am
by no means sure that it would not confess to being 'Cap'en Good'in,'
who accompanied Yankee Doodle and his father on their trip to town, and
whose name is less familiar in men's mouths. All the good, earnest,
simple-hearted folk who attend these séances ask the Spirits, when they
appear to them for the first time, if they are father, mother, brother,
husband, wife, or sister, and the Spirit will in every case confess the
kinship asked for. But, as I have just said, the investigator need not
restrict himself to his family, his friends, or his acquaintances. Let
him enter the world of fiction, or of poetry, or of history, he has but
to call for whomsoever he will, and the Materialized Spirit will answer:
'Lo! here am I!'

Let me strengthen this with the following additional illustration: Not
long ago at a Materializing séance where I was, I think, unknown to
everyone, certainly to the Medium, a Spirit emerged from the Cabinet,
clad in flowing white robes, and advanced towards me with a wavering
gait, which could be readily converted into a tottering walk, if I
should perchance ask if it were my great-grandmother, or could be
interpreted as the feeble incertitude of a first materialization, if I
should perchance descend the family tree and ask for a more youthful
scion. I arose as it approached and asked: 'Is this Rosamund?' 'Yes!'
replied the Spirit, still wobbling a little, and in doubt whether to
assume the role of youth or of old age. 'What! Fair Rosamund!' I
exclaimed, throwing into my voice all the joy and buoyancy I could
master. The hint to the Spirit was enough. All trace of senility
vanished, and with equal joyousness she responded 'Yes, it's indeed
Rosamund!' Then I went on, 'Dearest Rosamund, there's something I want
so much to ask you. Do you remember who gave you that bowl just before
you died?' Here Fair Rosamund nodded her head gaily and pointed her
finger at me. 'Oh, no, no, no,' I said, 'you forget, Fair Rosamund, I
wasn't there then. It was at Woodstock.' 'Oh, yes, yes,' she hastily
rejoined, 'so it was; it was at Woodstock.' 'And it was Eleanor who
offered you that bowl.' 'To be sure, I remember it now perfectly. It was
Eleanor.' 'But Rosamund, Fair Rosamund, what made you drink that bowl?
Had you no suspicions?' 'No, I had no suspicions.' And here she shook
her head very sadly. 'Didn't you see what Eleanor had in her other
hand?' 'No.' 'Ah, Fair Rosamund, I'm afraid she was a bad lot.' 'Indeed
she was!' (with great emphasis). 'What cruel eyes she had!' 'Hadn't she,
though!' 'How did she find you out?' 'I haven't an idea.' 'Ah, Fair
Rosamund, do you remember how beautiful you were [here the Spirit
simpered a little] after you were dead, and how the people came from far
and near to look at you?' 'Yes,' said Fair Rosamund, 'I looked down on
them all the while.' And here she glided back into the Cabinet.

It is not impossible that a Spiritualist might urge that the test which
I apply is not a fair one--that guile will beget guile, that the Spirits
meet me as I meet them.

But what other possible way have I of finding out who the Spirits are,
when they do not tell me in advance, but by asking them? Whenever they
have been announced to me as this or that Spirit, I invariably treat
them as the Spirits of those whom they assert themselves to be, and, in
my conclusions, am guided only by the pertinency of their answers to my
questions. Whenever William Shakespeare appears to me (and, by the way,
let me here parenthetically note, as throwing light on a vexed question,
that Shakespeare in the Spirit-world 'favors' the Chandos Portrait, even
to the two little white collar strings hanging down in front; his Spirit
has visited me several times, and such was his garb when I saw him most
distinctly); when, I repeat, Shakespeare materializes in the Cabinet for
me, do I not always most reverently salute him, and does he not
graciously nod to me--until I venture most humbly to ask him what the
misprint, 'Vllorxa' in _Timon of Athens_ stands for, when he always
slams the curtains in my face? (I meekly own that perhaps he is
justified.) Have I ever failed in respectful homage to General
Washington? Did I ever evince the slightest mistrust of Indian 'braves?'

When a Spirit comes out of the Cabinet especially to me, how am I to
know, or to find out, who it is but by asking? If it be not the Spirit
that I name, will it not, if it has a shred of honesty, set me right?
What hinders it from telling me just who it is? If it be the Spirit of
my great-grandmother, it can be surely no satisfaction to her, after all
the bother of materialization, to hold converse with me as the Spirit of
Sally in our Alley; and if she be, in every sense of the word, a
'spirity' old lady, she will instantly undeceive me, and 'let me know
who I am talking to.' But why should I anticipate deceit at Spiritual
hands? If William Shakespeare can appear to me, why not Fair Rosamund?
Hereupon a Spiritualist may maintain that if the Spirit said she was
Fair Rosamund, and displayed a familiarity with the incidents of that
frail woman's life and death, she probably was Fair Rosamund. So be it.
I yield, and will go farther, and hereafter find no more difficulty,
than in her case, in Tennyson's Olivia, Marie St. Clair, and in the
heroes and heroines of Scheherezade's Thousand and One Nights.

Although I have been thus thwarted at every turn in my investigations of
Spiritualism, and found fraud where I had looked for honesty, and
emptiness where I had hoped for fulness, I cannot think it right to pass
a verdict, universal in its application, where far less than the
universe of Spiritualism has been observed. My field of examination has
been limited. There is an outlying region claimed by Spiritualists which
I have not touched, and into which I would gladly enter, were there any
prospect that I should meet with more success. I am too deeply imbued
with the belief that we are such stuff as dreams are made on, to be
unwilling to accept a few more shadows in my sleep. Unfortunately, in my
experience, Dante's motto must be inscribed over an investigation of
Spiritualism, and all hope must be abandoned by those who enter on it.

If the performances which I have witnessed are, after all, in their
essence Spiritual, their mode of manifestation certainly places them
only on the margin, the very outskirts of that realm of mystery which
Spiritualism claims as its own. Spiritualism, pure and undefiled, if it
mean anything at all, must be something far better than Slate Writing
and Raps. These grosser physical manifestations can be but the mere ooze
and scum cast up by the waves on the idle pebble, the waters of a
heaven-lit sea, if it exist, must lie far out beyond.

The time is not far distant, I cannot but think, when the more elevated
class of Spiritualists will cast loose from all these physical
manifestations, which, even if they be proved genuine, are but little
removed from Materialism, and eventually Materializing Séances, held on
recurrent days, and at fixed hours, will become unknown.



Advertisement calling for mediums

Briggs, Mr. Fred., medium

Caffray, Mr. Joseph, medium

Flint, Mr. R.W., medium
Fullerton, Prof. G.S., on the Slade-Zoellner investigation
Furness, H.H., on materialization
  On mediumistic development
  On Slade

Independent slate writing

Kane, Mrs. Margaret Fox
Keeler, Mr. P.L.O.A., medium
Keeler, Mr. W.M., medium
Kellar, Mr. Harry
Knerr, Dr., on slate writing
Koenig, Prof. Geo. A., about Mrs. Thayer

Leidy, Prof. Joseph, about Mrs. Thayer
  On mediums
Letter from Mrs. Kane
Letters, sealed
Lord, Mrs. Maud E., medium

Mansfield, Dr. James
Martin, Mrs. Eliza A., medium
Martin, Mrs. Dr. Eleanor
Mediumistic development

Names of commissioners

Patterson, Mrs. S.E., medium
Photographs, spiritual
Powell, Mr., medium
Preface to the Appendix

Rappings, spirit
Report of commission
Rothermel, Dr.

Screen, use of by Keeler
Sealed letters
Slade, Dr. Henry, examined by Dr. Pepper
  letter from
  personal appearance
  examination of
  resolution of commission in regard to
Slate writing
Spirit rappings
Spiritual photographs

Thayer, Mrs. M.B., medium
Tricks of jugglers
  of Slade

Wells, Mrs., medium

Zoellner, Slade-, report on
  calling attention to in report

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Preliminary Report of the Commission Appointed by the University of Pennsylvania to Investigate Modern Spiritualism - In Accordance with the Request of the Late Henry Seybert" ***

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