By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud?
Author: McCabe, Joseph
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud?" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.







On March 11 of this year Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did me the honour of
debating the claims of Spiritualism with me before a vast and
distinguished audience at the Queen's Hall, London. My opponent had
insisted that I should open the debate; and, when it was pointed out
that the critic usually follows the exponent, he had indicated that I
had ample material to criticize in the statement of the case for
Spiritualism in his two published works.

How conscientiously I addressed myself to that task, and with what
result, must be left to the reader of the published debate. Suffice it
to say that my distinguished opponent showed a remarkable disinclination
to linger over his own books, and wished to "broaden the issue." Since
the bulk of the time allotted to me in the debate was then already
spent, it was not possible to discuss satisfactorily the new evidences
adduced by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and not recorded in his books. I
hasten to repair the defect in this critical examination of every
variety of Spiritualistic phenomena.

My book has a serious aim. The pen of even the dullest author--and I
trust I do not fall into that low category of delinquents--must grow
lively or sarcastic at times in the course of such a study as this. When
one finds Spiritualists gravely believing that a corpulent lady is
transferred by spirit hands, at the rate of sixty miles an hour, over
the chimney-pots of London, and through several solid walls, one cannot
be expected to refrain from smiling. When one contemplates a group of
scientific or professional men plumbing the secrets of the universe
through the mediumship of an astute peasant or a carpenter, or a lady of
less than doubtful virtue, one may be excused a little irony. When our
creators of super-detectives enthusiastically applaud things which were
fully exposed a generation ago, and affirm that, because they could not,
in pitch darkness, see any fraud, there _was_ no fraud, we cannot
maintain the gravity of philosophers. When we find this "new revelation"
heralded by a prodigious outbreak of fraud, and claiming as its most
solid foundations to-day a mass of demonstrable trickery and deceit, our
sense of humour is pardonably irritated. Nor are these a few exceptional
weeds in an otherwise fair garden. In its living literature to-day, in
its actual hold upon a large number of people in Europe and America,
Spiritualism rests to a very great extent on fraudulent representations.

Here is my serious purpose. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made two points
against me which pleased his anxious followers. One--which evoked a
thunder of applause--was that I was insensible of the consolation which
this new religion has brought to thousands of bereaved humans. I am as
conscious of that as he or any other Spiritualist is. It has, however,
nothing to do with the question whether Spiritualism is true or no,
which we were debating; or with the question to what extent Spiritualism
is based on fraud, which I now discuss. Far be it from me to slight the
finer or more tender emotions of the human heart. On the contrary, it is
in large part to the more general cultivation of this refinement and
delicacy of feeling that I look for the uplifting of our race. But let
us take things in order. Does any man think it is a matter of
indifference whether this ministry of consolation is based on fraud and
inspired by greed? It is inconceivable.

And, indeed, the second point made by my opponent shows that I do not
misconceive him and his followers. It is that I exaggerate the quantity
of fraud in the movement. If they are right--if they have purified the
movement of the grosser frauds which so long disfigured it--they have
some ground to ask the critic to address himself to the substantial
truth rather than the occasional imposture. But this is a question of
fact; and to that question of fact the following pages are devoted. I
survey the various classes of Spiritualistic phenomena. I tell the
reader how materializations, levitations, raps, direct voices, apports,
spirit-photographs, lights and music in the dark, messages from the
dead, and so on, have actually and historically been engineered during
the last fifty years. This is, surely, useful. Spiritualism is in one of
its periodical phases of advance. Our generation knows nothing of the
experience of these things of an earlier generation. To teach one's
fellows the weird ingenuity, the sordid impostures, the grasping
trickery, which have accompanied Spiritualism since its birth in America
in 1848 can hurt only one class of men--impostors.

J. M.

_Easter, 1920._


CHAP.                                         PAGE
   I. MEDIUMS: BLACK, WHITE, AND GREY            1

  II. HOW GHOSTS ARE MADE                       17






VIII. AUTOMATIC WRITING                        129

  IX. GHOST-LAND AND ITS CITIZENS              147



Mediums are the priests of the Spiritualist religion. They are the
indispensable channels of communication with the other world. They have,
not by anointing, but by birthright, the magical character which fits
them alone to perform the miracles of the new revelation. From them
alone, and through them alone, can one learn the conditions under which
manifestations may be expected. Were they to form a union or go on
strike, the life of the new religion would be more completely suspended
than the life of any other religion. They control the entire output of
evidence. They guard the gates of the beyond. They are the priests of
the new religion.

Now it will not be seriously disputed that during the last three
quarters of the century these mediums or priests have perpetrated more
fraud than was ever attributed to any priesthood before. A few weeks ago
Spiritualists held a meeting in commemoration of the "seventy-second
anniversary" of the birth of their religion. That takes us back to 1848,
the year in which Mrs. Fish, as I will tell later, astutely turned into
a profitable concern the power of her younger sisters to rap out
"spirit" communications with the joints of their toes. There have been
some quaint beginnings of religions, but the formation of that
fraudulent little American family-syndicate in 1848 is surely the
strangest that ever got "commemoration" in the annals of religion. And
from that day until ours there is hardly a single prominent medium who
has not been convicted of fraud. Any person who cares to run over Mr.
Podmore's history of the movement will see this. There is hardly a
medium named in the nineteenth century who does not eventually disappear
in an odour of sulphur.

Podmore was one of the best-informed and most conscientious
non-Spiritualists who ever wrote on Spiritualism. If one prefers the
verdict of the French astronomer Flammarion, who believes that mediums
do possess abnormal powers and has studied them for nearly sixty years,
this is what he says:--

     It is the same with all mediums, male and female. I believe I have
     had nearly all of them, from various parts of the world, at my
     house during the last forty years. One may lay it down as a
     principle that all professional mediums cheat, but they do not
     cheat always.[1]

If you are inclined to think that this applies only to professional
mediums, whose need of money drives them into trickery, listen to this
further verdict, which M. Flammarion says he could support by "hundreds
of instances":--

     I have seen unpaid mediums, men and women of the world, cheat
     without the least scruple, out of sheer vanity, or from a still
     less creditable motive--the love of deceiving. Spiritualist séances
     have led to very useful and pleasant acquaintanceships, and to more
     than one marriage. You must distrust both classes [paid and

Listen to the verdict of another man who believes in the powers of
mediums, and who has studied them enthusiastically for thirty years, a
medical man with means and leisure--Baron von Schrenck-Notzing[3]:--

     It is indisputable that nearly every professional medium (and many
     private mediums) does part of his performances by fraud....
     Conscious and unconscious fraud plays an immense part in this
     field.... The entire method of the Spiritualist education of
     mediums, with its ballast of unnecessary ideas, leads directly to
     the facilitation of fraud.

If this is not enough, take another gentleman, Mr. Hereward Carrington,
who has studied mediums for two decades in various parts of the world,
and who also believes that they have genuine abnormal powers:--

     Ninety-eight per cent. of the [physical] phenomena are

These are not men who have dismissed the phenomena as "all rot." They
believe in the reality of materializations or levitations. They are not
men who have been recently converted, in an emotional mood. They have
spent whole decades in the patient study of mediums. I could quote a
dozen more witnesses of that type; but the reader will be able to judge
for himself presently.

Some Spiritualists try to tone down this very grave blot on their
religion by distinguishing between the professional medium and the
unpaid. The men I have quoted warn us against this distinction. It is
quite absurd to think that money is the only incentive to cheat. The
history of the movement swarms with exposures of unpaid as well as paid
mediums. An unpaid medium who can display "wonderful powers" becomes at
once a centre of most flattering interest; and we shall see dozens of
cases of this vanity leading men and women of every social position into
fraud and misrepresentation, even in quite recent times. All that one
can say is that there is far less fraud among unpaid mediums. But there
are far less striking phenomena among unpaid mediums, as a rule, and so
this helps us very little. The "evidence" afforded by mediums like Mr.
Vale Owen, and the myriads of quite recent automatic writers and
artists, is absolutely worthless. What they do is too obviously human.

We must remember, also, that the distinction between "paid" and "unpaid"
is not quite so plain as some think. Daniel Dunglas Home is always
described by Spiritualists as an unpaid medium, but I will show
presently that he lived in great comfort all his life on the strength of
his Spiritualist powers. Florence Cook, Sir William Crookes's famous
medium, is described as "unpaid," because she did not (at that time)
charge sitters; but she had a large annual allowance from a wealthy
Spiritualist precisely in order that she should not charge at the door.
To take a living medium, and one very strongly recommended to us by Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle under the name of "Eva C." (though it has been openly
acknowledged by her patrons on the continent for six years that her name
is Marthe Beraud): she has lived a luxurious life with people far above
her own station in life for fifteen years, in virtue of her supposed
abnormal powers.

The distinction is, in any case, useless. When Spiritualists try to
conciliate us to their wonderful stories by telling us that the medium
was "unpaid," they do not know the history of their own movement. The
most extraordinary frauds have been perpetrated, even in recent years,
by unpaid mediums, or ladies of good social position. Flammarion,
Maxwell, Ochorowicz, Carrington, and all other experienced investigators
give hundreds of cases. Not many years ago Professor Reichel, tired of
examining and exposing professional mediums, heard that the daughter of
a high official in Costa Rica was producing wonderful materializations.
He actually went to Costa Rica to study her, and he found that she was
tricking (dressing a servant girl as a ghost) in the crudest fashion, as
I will tell later. The daughter of an Italian chemist, Linda Gazerra
cheated scientific and professional men for three years (1908-11), but
was at last found to conceal her "ghosts" and "apports" in her false
hair and her underclothing. There is no such thing as a guarantee
against fraud in the character of the medium. Every case has to be
examined with unsparing rigour.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle meets the difficulty by cheerfully distinguishing
between white, black, and grey mediums: the entirely honest, the
entirely fraudulent, and those who have genuine powers, but cheat at
times when their powers flag and the sitters are impatient for
"manifestations." It is a familiar distinction. To some extent it is a
sound distinction. We all admit black mediums. The chronicle of
Spiritualism, short as it is, contains as sorry a collection of rogues,
male and female, as any human movement _could_ show in seventy years.
Politics is spotless by comparison. Even business can hold up its head.
For a "religion" the situation is remarkable.

Next, we all admit white mediums. We all know those myriads of innocent
folk, tender maidens and nervous spinsters, neuropathic clergymen and
even quite sober-looking professional men, who bring us reams and rivers
of inspiration through the planchette and the _ouija_ board and the
crystal and automatic writing. Bless them, they are as guileless,
generally, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. I have seen them--seen men
and women of such social standing that one dare not breathe a
suspicion--stoop to trickery more than once in order to get
communications of "evidential value." But there are tens of thousands of
amateur mediums of this kind who are as honest as any of us. We all
admit it. It is sheer Spiritualistic nonsense to say that we dismiss the
whole movement as fraud. We do not question for a moment the honesty of
these myriads of amateur mediums. What we say is that the evidential
value of _their_ work would not convert a Kaffir to Spiritualism. Dr. J.
Maxwell, a distinguished French lawyer and doctor, who has been a close
investigator of these things for decades and believes in mediumistic
powers, says:--

     I share M. Janet's opinion concerning the majority of Spiritualist
     mediums. I have only found two interesting ones among them; the
     hundred others whom I have observed have only given me automatic
     phenomena, more or less conscious; nearly all were the puppets of
     their imagination.[5]

No, Spiritualism does not rely at all on these innocent and useless
productions. Invariably, your Spiritualist opponent turns sooner or
later to the big, striking things, the "physical phenomena," the work of
the "powerful" mediums.

Now, which of these were ever "white"? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, when he
came to this important point, named four "snow-white" mediums. He
_could_, he added, name "ten or twelve living mediums"; but since he did
not, we still hunger for the names. The four spotless ones were Home,
Stainton Moses, Mrs. Piper, and Mrs. Everett--not a great record for
seventy years (since Home began in 1852). Mrs. Piper we will discuss
later, but I may say at once that a man for whom Sir Arthur has a great
respect as a psychic expert, Dr. Maxwell, speaks of Mrs. Piper's
"inaccuracies and falsehoods" with great disdain. Who Mrs. Ever_e_tt may
be I do not know. If Sir Arthur means the Mrs. Ever_i_tt of forty years
ago, I insist on transferring her to the flock of the _black_ sheep. In
later chapters we will examine the performances of Stainton Moses and
Home, and probably the reader will agree with me that these snow-white
lambs were two of the arch-impostors of the Spiritualist movement. But a
word of general interest may be inserted here.

The snow-white Daniel, whom Sir W. Barrett and Sir A. C. Doyle and all
other Spiritualists quote as one of the pillars of the movement, as a
spotless worker of the most prodigious miracles, was quite the most
successful and cynical adventurer in the history of Spiritualism. He was
no "paid adventurer," says Sir A. C. Doyle in his _New Revelation_ (p.
28), but "the nephew of the Earl of Home." To the general public that
statement suggests a cultivated and refined member of the British
aristocracy, above all suspicion of fraud. It is the precise opposite of
the truth. Even Daniel himself never pretended that he was more than a
son of a bastard son of the Earl of Home. He appears first as a
penniless adventurer in America at the age of fifteen, and he lived on
his Spiritualistic wits until he died. He married a wealthy Russian lady
in virtue of his pretensions, and his second marriage was based on the
same pretensions. It is true that he did not charge so much a sitter. He
had a more profitable way. He lived--apart from his wives and a few
lectures (supported by his followers)--on the generosity of his dupes
all his life.

In the Debate Sir A. C. Doyle tried to defend him against one grave
charge I brought against the white lamb. In 1866 a wealthy London widow,
Mrs. Lyon, asked Daniel to get her into touch with her dead husband. The
gifted medium did so at once, of course. For this he received a fee of
thirty pounds, nominally as a subscription to the Spiritual Athenæum, of
which he was paid secretary. Daniel stuck to the lady, and got immense
sums of money from her; and a London court of justice compelled him to
return the lot.

Now, Sir A. C. Doyle, who said several times in the Debate that _I_ did
not know what I was talking about, while _he_ had read "the literature
of my opponents as well as my own," asserts: "I have read the case very
carefully, and I believe that Home behaved in a perfectly natural and
honourable manner." He quotes Mr. Clodd (who has, apparently, been
misled by Podmore's too lenient account of the case), but I prefer to
deal with Sir Arthur's own assurance that he has "read the case very

It was on in London, under Vice-Chancellor Gifford, from April 21 to May
1, 1868. Sir A. C. Doyle seems to regard Mrs. Lyon's affidavit as
waste-paper. She swears that Home brought a fictitious message from her
dead husband, ordering her to adopt Daniel and endow him, and she gave
him at once £26,000. She swears that, when Home's birthday came round,
another fictitious message ordered her to give Daniel a further fat
cheque, and she gave him £6,798. Sir A. C. Doyle may set aside all this
as "lies," because he is determined to have at least one snow-white
medium in the nineteenth century, and his cause cannot afford to lose
Home's miracles. But when he and other writers say that Home was
acquitted of dishonourable conduct, they are, if they have read
Gifford's decree, saying the exact opposite of the truth. It is enough
to mention that Vice-Chancellor Gifford decided that "the gifts and
deeds are _fraudulent_ and void," and he added:--

     The system [Spiritualism], as presented by the evidence, is
     mischievous nonsense--well calculated on the one hand to delude the
     vain, the weak, the foolish, and the superstitious; and on the
     other to assist the projects of _the needy and the adventurer_.
     Beyond all doubt there is plain law enough and plain sense enough
     to forbid and prevent the retention of _acquisitions such as these_
     by any medium, whether with or without a strange gift.

That is the official judgment which Spiritualists constantly represent
as acquitting Home of fraud! This man, scornfully lashed as a greedy
impostor from the British Bench, is the snow-white medium recommended to
the public by Sir A. C. Doyle, Sir W. Barrett, Sir W. Crookes, and Sir
O. Lodge. Sir Arthur adds in his _Vital Message_ (p. 55) that "the
genuineness of his psychic powers has never been seriously questioned."
That statement is hardly less astounding. Home's performances, which we
will examine in the third chapter, were regarded by the overwhelming
majority of the cultivated people of his time as trickery of the most
sordid description from beginning to end. Has Sir A. C. Doyle never
heard of Browning's "Sludge"? It expressed the opinion of nearly all

As to Stainton Moses, the other lamb, an ex-minister who ran Home close
in sleight-of-hand and foot (in the dark), it is enough to say, with
Carrington, that "no test conditions were ever allowed to be imposed
upon this medium." Spiritualists ought to quote that whenever they quote
the miracles of Stainton Moses. His tricks were always performed--in
very bad light (if any)--before a few chosen friends, who had not the
least inclination to look for fraud. Home was never exposed, though he
was once caught, because he chose his sitters. But Stainton Moses chose
a far more exclusive circle of sitters, and never once had a critical
eye on him. We shall see that the tricks themselves brand him as a
fraud. He was not exposed; but it was the sitters who were lambs, not
Stainton Moses.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in effect, recommends two further mediums as
snow-white. One is Kathleen Goligher, of Belfast, whose performances
shall speak for her in our third chapter. The other is "Eva C.," whose
miracles will be examined in the second chapter. We shall see that she
was detected cheating over and over again. At the present juncture,
however, I would make only a few general remarks about this living

In a work which was published in 1914--in German by Baron von
Schrenck-Notzing, and in French by Mme. Bisson (they are not two
distinct books, as Sir A. C. Doyle says)--there are 150 photographs of
"materializations" with this medium. We shall see that they tell their
own story of crude imposture. In the introductory part of his book Baron
Schrenck describes the character of the lady (pp. 51-4). He says,
politely, that she has "moral sentiments only in the ego-centric sense"
(that is to say, none); that she "behaves improperly to herself"; that
she "lost her virginity before she was twenty"; and that she has "a
lively, erotic imagination" and an "exaggerated idea of her charms and
her influence on the male sex." That is bad enough for a snow-white
Vestal Virgin, a sacred portal of the new revelation. But worse was to
follow; and it was evident to me during the Debate that, while Sir A. C.
Doyle twitted me with knowing nothing about these matters, he was
himself quite ignorant of the developments of this case six years
before. The young woman's real name, Marthe Beraud, had been concealed
by Baron Schrenck, and her age mis-stated by six years, for a very good
reason--she is the "Marthe B." who was recommended to us in 1905 as a
wonderful medium by Sir Oliver Lodge, and who was detected and exposed
(in Algiers) in 1907! Baron Schrenck was forced to acknowledge her real
age and name in 1914.

Where, then, are the snow-whites? Does Sir A. C. Doyle want us to go
back to the pure early days of the movement? Take the Foxes, who began
the movement. In 1888 Margaretta Fox, who had married Captain Kane, the
Arctic explorer, and had been brought to some sense of her misconduct by
him, confessed (in the _New York Herald_, September 24) that the
movement was from the start a gross fraud, engineered for profit by her
elder sister, and that the whole Spiritualist movement of America was
steeped in fraud and immorality.

Perhaps Sir A. C. Doyle would plead that this appalling outburst of
fraud, which poured over America from 1848 to 1888, was only the
occasion of the appearance of genuine mediums. Well, who are they? Take
the mediums who founded Spiritualism in England from 1852 onward. Was
Foster white? As early as 1863 the Spiritualist Judge, Edmonds, learned
"sickening details of his criminality." Was Colchester, who was detected
and exposed, white? What was the colour of the Holmes family, whose
darling spirit-control, "Katie King," got so much jewellery from poor
old R. D. Owen before she was found out? Are we to see no spots on the
egregious "Dr." Monck, who pretended that he was taken from his bed in
Bristol and put to bed in Swindon by spirit hands? Or in corpulent Mrs.
Guppy (an amateur who duped A. Russel Wallace for years), who swore that
she had been snatched from her table in her home at Ball's Pond, taken
across London (and through several solid walls) for three miles at sixty
miles an hour, and deposited on the table in a locked room? Was Charles
Williams white? He was, with Rita, detected by Spiritualists at
Amsterdam in 1878 with a whole ghost-making apparatus in his possession.
Were Bastian and Taylor white? They were similarly exposed at Arnheim in
1874. Was Florence Cook, the pupil of Herne (the transporter of Mrs.
Guppy at sixty miles an hour) and bewitcher of Sir W. Crookes, white? We
shall soon see. Was her friend and contemporary ghost-producer, Miss
Showers, never exposed? Or does Sir A. C. Doyle want us to believe in
Morse, or Eglinton, or Slade, or the Davenport brothers, or Mrs. Fay,
or Miss Davenport, or Duguid, or Fowler, or Hudson, or Miss Wood, or
Mme. Blavatsky?

These are not a few black sheep picked out of a troop of snowy fleeces.
They are the great mediums of the first forty years of the movement.
They are the men and women who converted Russel Wallace, and Crookes,
and Robert Owen, and Judge Edmunds, and Vice-Admiral Moore, and all the
other celebrities. They are the mediums whose exploits filled the
columns of the _Spiritualist_, the _Medium and Daybreak_, and the
_Banner of Light_. Cut these and Home and Moses out of the chronicle,
and you have precious little left on which to found a religion.

Spiritualists think that they lessen the reproach to some extent by the
"grey" theory. Some mediums have genuine powers, but a time comes when
the powers fail and, as the audience presses for a return on its money,
they resort to trickery. That is only another way of saying that a
medium is white until he is found out, which usually takes some years,
as the conditions (dictated by the mediums) are the best possible for
fraud and the worse possible for exposure.

But Sir A. C. Doyle is not fortunate in his example. Indeed, nearly
every statement he made in his debate with me was inaccurate. Eusapia
Palladino was a typical "grey," he says. "One cannot read her record,"
he assures us, "without feeling that for the first fifteen years of her
mediumship she was quite honest." An amazing statement! Her whole career
as a public medium lasted little more than fifteen years, and she
tricked from the very beginning of it. In his _New Revelation_ Sir
Arthur assures the public that she "was at least twice convicted of very
clumsy and foolish fraud" (p. 46).

Such statements are quite reckless. Eusapia Palladino tricked
habitually, on the confession of Morselli and Flammarion and her
greatest admirers, from the beginning of her public career. Eusapia
began her public career in 1888, but was little known until 1892. She
was exposed at Cambridge by the leading English Spiritualists in 1895,
only _three_ years after she had begun her performances on the great
European stage. Myers and Lodge reported that not one of her
performances (in 1895) was clearly genuine, and that her fraud was so
clever (Myers said) that it "must have needed long practice to bring it
to its present level of skill." Mr. Myers was quite right. She had
cheated from the start. Schiaparelli, the great Italian astronomer,
investigated her in 1892, and said that, as she refused all tests, he
remained agnostic. Antoniadi, the French astronomer, studied her at
Flammarion's house in 1898, and he found her performance "fraud from
beginning to end." Flammarion himself reports that she tried constantly
to get her hands free from control, and that she was caught lowering a
letter-scale by means of a hair. Thus her common tricks had begun as
early as 1898, 1895, and even 1892.

"_Our_ hands are clean," Sir A. C. Doyle retorted to my charge of fraud.
That is precisely what they are not. Spiritualists have from the
beginning covered up fraud with the mantle of ingenious theories, like
this "grey" theory. Fifty years ago (1873) a Mr. Volckmann, a
Spiritualist, grasped "Katie King," the pretty ghost who had duped
Professor Crookes for months. He at once found that he had hold of the
medium, Florence Cook; but the other Spiritualists present tore him off,
and put out the feeble light; so Florence Cook continued for seven
years longer to dupe Spiritualists, until she was caught again in just
the same way in 1880. From the earliest days of materializations there
were such exposures, and the Spiritualists condoned everything. The
medium, they said, when the identity of ghost and medium was too solidly
proved, had acted the part of ghost unconsciously, in a state of trance.
The ghosts had economized, using the medium's body instead of making
one. Some even said that the ghost and medium coalesced again (to save
the medium's life!) when a wicked sceptic seized the phantom. Some said,
when gauzy stuff, such as any draper sells, or a curl of false hair, was
found in the cabinet, that the spirits had forgotten to "dematerialize"
it. Some laid the blame on "wicked spirits" who got snow-white mediums
into trouble. Some learnedly proved that thoughts of fraud in the mind
of sceptics present had telepathically influenced the entranced medium!

These things are past, Sir A. C. Doyle may say. Not in the least. In the
decade before the War exposures were as frequent as in the palmy days of
the middle of the nineteenth century, and Spiritualist excuses were just
as bad. Craddock, the most famous materializing medium in England, who
had duped the most cultivated Spiritualists of London for years, was
caught and fined £10 and costs at London in 1906. Marthe Beraud, the
next sensation of the Spiritualist world, was caught in 1907, and had to
be transformed into "Eva C." Miller, the wonderful San Francisco maker
of ghosts, was exposed in France in 1908. Frau Abend, the marvel of
Berlin and the pet of the German Spiritualist aristocracy, was exposed
and arrested in 1909. Bailey, the pride of the Australian
Spiritualists, was unmasked in France in 1910. Ofelia Corralès, the next
nine days' wonder, passed among the black sheep in 1911; and Lucia
Sordi, the chief medium of Italy, was exposed in the same year. In 1912
Linda Gazerra, the refined Italian lady who had duped scientific men and
the Spiritualist world for three years, came to the same inevitable end;
and Mrs. Ebba Wriedt, the famous American direct-voice medium, met her
disaster in Norway. In 1913 it was the turn of Carancini; in 1914 of
Marthe Beraud in her new incarnation, "Eva C."

We will consider the trickery of these people in detail later. This mere
list of names, of more than national repute, gathered from one single
periodical (the German _Psychische Studien_), shows how the mischievous
readiness of Spiritualists to find excuses, and their equally
mischievous readiness to admit "phenomena" where real control is
impossible, make the movement as rich in impostors to-day as it was half
a century ago. It must be understood that behind each of these leading
mediums--men and women of international interest--are thousands of
obscurer men and women who cheat less cultivated and less critical folk,
and are never detected. It is therefore useless to divide mediums into
professional and amateur, or into black, white, and grey. You take a
very grave risk with every one of them. You need a close familiarity
with all the varieties of fraud, and these we will now carefully
examine. We will then consider more patiently and courteously what
phenomena remain in the Spiritualist world which are reasonably free
from the suspicion of fraud.


[1] _Les forces naturelles inconnues_ (1907), p. 18.

[2] Same work, p. 213.

[3] _Materialisations-phänomene_ (1914), pp. 22, 28, and 29.

[4] _Personal Experiences in Spiritualism_ (1913), p. ix.

[5] _Metapsychical Phenomena_ (1905), p. 46.



The most thrilling expectation of every Spiritualist is to witness a
materialization. The wild ghost, the ghost in a state of nature, the
ghost which beckoned our grandmothers from their beds and waylaid our
grandfathers when they passed the graveyard on dark nights, has become a
mere legend. Hardly fifty years ago authentic ghost stories were as
common as blackberries. But the growth of education and the
establishment of exact inquiry into such matters have relegated all
these stories to the realm of imagination. According to the
Spiritualist, however, we have merely replaced the wild ghost by the
tame ghost, the domesticated ghost of the séance room. The clever
spirits of the other world, who could not when they were alive on earth
detach a single particle from a living body (except with a knife), are
now able to take a vast amount of material out of the medium's body and
build it up in the space of quarter or half an hour into a hand, a face,
or even a complete human body. This is the great feat of

Let me truthfully record that many of the better educated Spiritualists
fight shy of belief in this class of phenomena. They know that in the
history of the movement every single "materializing medium" has sooner
or later been convicted of fraud. They have, on reflection, seen that
the formation, in the course of half an hour, of even a human
hand--which is a marvellously compacted structure of millions of
cells--would be a feat of stupendous power and intelligence. They feel
that, if all the scientific men in the world cannot make a single living
cell, it is rather absurd to think that these spirit workers, whose
messages do not reflect a very high degree of intelligence, can make a
human face out of the slime or raw material of the medium's body in half
an hour, and put all the atoms back in their places in the medium's body
in another half hour.

The faith of the great majority of Spiritualists is, of course, heroic
enough to overlook all these difficulties. Indeed, it is amazing to find
even students of science among them indifferent to the enormous
intrinsic improbability of a materialization. During the debate at the
Queen's Hall Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had on the table before him a work
which contained a hundred and fifty photographs of materializations.
Several of these represented full-sized human busts (sometimes with the
superfluous decoration of beards, spectacles, starched collars, ties,
and tie-pins). One of them represented a full-sized human form, dressed
in a bath robe. And Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a trained medical man,
assured the audience that he believed that these were real forms,
moulded out of the "ectoplasm" of the medium's body, in the space of
less than half an hour, by spiritual powers! Sir William Crookes
believed in materializations of a still more wonderful nature, as we
shall see. Dr. Russel Wallace believed implicitly in materializations.
Sir W. Barrett and Sir O. Lodge believe in materializations, since they
believe in the honesty of D. D. Home, who professed to materialize

So we must not blame the ordinary Spiritualist if he knows nothing about
the tremendous internal difficulties of this class of phenomena, and
the consistent and appalling career of fraud of mediums in this respect.
Materialization is the crowning triumph of the medium, the most
convincing evidence of the new religion. It goes on to-day in darkened
rooms in London--done by men who have already been convicted in London
police-courts--and all parts of the world. Fraud follows fraud, yet the
believer hopes (and pays) on. _Some_ of the phenomena are genuine, he
says; that is to say, some of the tricks were not proved to be
fraudulent. Let us see how these things are done.

The incomparable Daniel was the first, apparently, to open up this great
field of Spiritualist evidence. In the early fifties he began to exhibit
hands which the Spiritualists present were sure were not _his_ hands.
But we shall see how, even in our own day, Spiritualists easily take a
stuffed glove, a foot, or even a bit of muslin to be a hand, in the
weird light of the dark room; and we will not linger over this.

The real creator of this important department of the movement was Mrs.
Underhill, the eldest of the three Fox sisters who founded Spiritualism.
I will tell the marvellous story of the three Foxes later, and will
anticipate here only to the extent of saying that Leah, the eldest
sister (Mrs. Fish, later Mrs. Underhill), was the organizing genius of
the movement. She was an expert in fraud and a woman of business. Until
her own sisters gave her away, forty years after the beginning of the
movement, she was never exposed; and even an exposure by her sister in
the public Press and on the public stage in New York made no difference
to her career. She was the Mme. Blavatsky, the Mrs. Eddy, of

Leah began in 1869, every other branch of Spiritualist conjuring having
now been fully explored, to produce a ghost at her sittings. In the dark
a veiled and luminous female figure walked solemnly about the room, and
profoundly impressed the sitters. The mere fact of _walking_--ghosts
have to _glide_ nowadays--would tell a modern audience that the ghost
was the very solid medium; and the luminosity would have an aroma of
phosphorus to a modern nostril. But the Americans of 1869 were not very
critical. A few months later a wealthy New York banker, Livermore, lost
his wife, and the "hyenas"--as Sir A. C. Doyle calls mediums who prey on
the affections of the bereaved--hastened to relieve his grief and his
purse. For four hundred sittings, spread over a space of six years,
Katie Fox impersonated his dead wife. As Katie Fox confessed in 1888
that Spiritualism was "all humbuggery--every bit of it," we need not
enter into a learned analysis of these sittings.

English mediums were put on their mettle, and after a little practice in
private they announced that they had the same powers of materialization,
and it was unnecessary to bring over the Americans. Mrs. Guppy, the
pride of London Spiritualism, opened this new and rich vein. The story
of Mrs. Guppy need not be told here. It is enough that, while she was
still Miss Nichol, she was the chief medium to convert Dr. Russel
Wallace to Spiritualism; and that, on the other hand, she was the lady
who professed that she was aerially transported by spirits from Highbury
to Lamb's Conduit Street, and through several solid walls, in the space
of three minutes. Mrs. Guppy was above suspicion: first because she was
unpaid, and secondly because she exposed several fraudulent mediums. So
Mrs. Guppy set up her little peep-show in the first month of 1872, and
drew fashionable London. But the performance was rather tame. While Mrs.
Guppy sat in the cabinet, a little white face appeared, in the dim
moonlight, at an opening near the top of the cabinet. It did not speak,
as the New York ghosts did. Dolls do not speak.

A few months later Herne and Williams, the professional friends of Mrs.
Guppy whose spirit-controls had wafted that very voluminous lady as
rapidly as a zeppelin across London, set up a more robust performance.
As they sat in the cabinet (unseen), spirit-forms emerged--dim,
luminous, but unmistakably alive--and moved about the room. It was the
first appearance in England of those famous spirits, John King, the
converted pirate, and Katie King, his daughter, who had been a great
attraction in America for several years. John's beard looked rather
theatrical, and his lamp smelt of phosphorus. But what would you?
Spirits have to use earthly chemicals; and they would find plenty of
phosphorus in the brain of Charlie Williams, not to speak of his
pockets, which were never searched. Again we may save ourselves the
trouble of a learned analysis of the phenomena by recalling that
Williams presently dissolved partnership with Herne, and entered into an
alliance with Rita; and that in 1878 the precious pair were seized
during a performance, and searched, at Amsterdam. Rita had a false
beard, six handkerchiefs, and a bottle of phosphorized oil. Williams had
the familiar false black beard and dirty drapery of "John King," and
bottles of phosphorized oil and scent.

The Spiritualist reader here impatiently observes that I am merely
picking out a few little irregularities in the early days of the
movement. Far from it. I am scientifically studying the preparatory
stages of one of the classic manifestations of the movement: the
materializations of Florence Cook, which are vouched for by Sir W.
Crookes, Sir A. C. Doyle, and, apparently, all the leaders of the
movement. If the Spiritualist wishes, like other people, honestly to
understand "Katie King," he or she must read this part of the story
which I am giving, and which is generally omitted (though it may be read
in any history of the movement).

Florence Cook was a pretty little Hackney girl of sixteen when Herne and
Williams began. She attended séances at their house in Lamb's Conduit
Street, and she was so impressed that she became a pupil of Herne. She
and her father seem to have understood each other very well, and she
very shortly began to give, to paying guests, materialization-séances in
their house at Hackney. Florence went one better than Mrs. Guppy and
Herne. There was a lamp in the room--at the far side of the room--and
you saw faces plainly at the opening in the cabinet. As her "power"
developed, the ghost began to leave the cabinet and walk about the room
and talk to the sitters. Florence remained bound with rope in the
cabinet while "Katie King" stalked abroad. You did not see her, it is
true, but you had her word for it. She was not bound by the
spectators--nor by herself, of course. She was bound by the spirits. A
rope was put on her lap, the curtains were drawn, and presently you
discovered Florrie, "securely" bound and in a trance, in the cabinet.
The curtains were drawn again when the ghost, in flowing white drapery,
walked the room.

Meantime, and at a very early date, a Manchester Spiritualist named
Blackburn privately engaged to give Florrie an annual fee if she would
not take money at the door; so she became an "unpaid" and highly
respectable medium. Jewellery is, of course, not money, and Florrie
exacted jewellery (as the Spiritualist Volckmann found and said in the
London Press at the time, when he wanted to attend) from would-be
sitters through her father. It is said that she looked, in features,
remarkably like a Jewess.

Her fame reached the ears of a brilliant young scientist, Professor W.
Crookes, and he invited her to materialize at his house. She soon laid
aside all dread of the scientific man. In three niggardly little
letters, which he never republished, Crookes described in 1874 the
wonderful things done at his house. While Florrie lay in an improvised
cabinet, or behind a curtain, the beautiful and romantic and quite
different maiden, Katie King, walked about his room. She played with
Crookes's children, and told them stories about her earthly life in
India long ago. She talked affably to his guests, and took his arm as
she walked. There was not the least doubt about her solidity. The wicked
sceptic who suggests that Katie King was a muslin doll or a streak of
light has certainly not read Crookes's letters. He felt her pulse, he
sounded her heart and lungs, he cut off a tress of her lovely auburn
hair, he took her in his arms, and he--well, he breaks off here and
simply asks us what any man would do in the circumstances? We assume
that he found that she had lips and warm breath like any other maiden.

Florence Cook's opinion of scientific men would to-day be priceless. I
will say, on behalf of Sir W. Crookes, that he never obtruded this
sacred experience on the public. He "accidentally" destroyed all the
negatives and photographs he had taken of Katie King. He forbade
friends, to whom he had given copies, ever to publish them. The three
short letters he wrote to the _Spiritualist_ (February 6, April 3, and
June 5, 1874--I have, of course, read them) are now rare. He wrote them
out of chivalry, because a rival Spiritualist, Volckmann (who married
Mrs. Guppy), got admission to the Hackney sanctuary (by a present of
jewellery) and exposed Florence (December 9, 1873). He saw at once that
she was impersonating the spirit, and he seized it. Other Spiritualists
present, supporters of Florrie, tore him off, and turned out the lamp;
and five minutes later Florence was found, bound and peacefully
entranced, in her cabinet. In the hubbub that followed Professor Crookes
gave his modest testimonial to Florrie's virtue. Spiritualists generally
accepted her version, and she continued to make ghosts until 1880, when
Sir George Sitwell and Baron von Buch exposed her in precisely the same

No Spiritualist can quarrel with me for dwelling on this famous
materialization. It is supposed to be the mostly firmly authenticated in
the whole movement. Sir W. Crookes said, quite late in life, that he had
"nothing to retract"; and every Spiritualist who quotes his high
authority endorses the materialization of Katie King. The majority of
the public to-day will merely conclude that some scientific men are
worse witnesses on such matters than dockers, and that the disgust of
scientific men like Sir E. Ray Lankester and Sir Bryan Donkin has a
very solid foundation. Even at the time there were leading Spiritualists
like Sergeant Cox who regarded the affair with bewilderment and
suspected that all materializations were fraud.

What can be said for Sir W. Crookes? He alleges that the medium and the
ghost were unmistakably different persons. Katie King was taller than
Florrie. But Florence Cook, like her contemporary, Miss Showers, was
seen to walk on tip-toe, and alter her stature, when she was the ghost.
Sir W. Crookes nowhere says that he took the elementary precaution of
measuring ghost and medium _with their dresses drawn up to their knees_.
He says that the lock of hair which Katie gave him as a memento was
auburn, and Florrie's hair was very dark brown. But we do not doubt that
on the _last occasion_ the ghost was _not_ Florence Cook. Other
differences he finds, in a dim light, are negligible. If the modern
Spiritualist really believes Sir W. Crookes, as he professes to do, he
must come to this ultra-miraculous conclusion: The spiritual powers in
this case did not merely take _some_ matter out of Florence Cook's body,
but they took more than the whole substance of it, because Crookes says
that Katie was taller and broader than Florrie! And, to cap this supreme
miracle, he on one occasion saw ghost and medium together, and
apparently Florrie was as solid as ever! The spirits had in this case
multiplied nine stone into eighteen or nineteen.

After twenty years of religious controversy I am a patient man, but I
decline to argue with any one who doubts that Florrie Cook (four times
caught in fraud, and a pupil of Herne) impersonated the ghost.

Mr. F. Podmore saw the photographs which Professor Crookes took. He
says that ghost and medium are the same person. Crookes himself was
nervous, in spite of Florrie's charms, and he begged to be allowed to
see ghost and medium plainly together. The artful Florence could not
manage that in his house. Once she let him look at her, lying on the
ground, but he saw no face or hands; and a bundle of clothes and a pair
of boots are not quite clearly a living person. He pressed again.
Florence--he tells us this very naively--borrowed his lamp (a bottle of
phosphorized oil) and tested its penetrating power, and then told him he
should see both ghost and medium in _her_ house. He went, and we are not
surprised that he saw them.

If any Spiritualist of our time really doubts that on this occasion
there were _two_ girls, I invite him to read carefully Sir W. Crookes's
account of the famous farewell scene. Katie proclaimed that her mission
was over (she had converted a scientific man), and this was to be her
last appearance. Florrie (who was in a trance, of course) wept, vainly
implored her to visit this earth again, and sank, broken-hearted, to the
floor. Katie directed Crookes--who stood, mute, with his phosphorus lamp
in the middle of this pretty comedy--to see to Florrie, and, when he
turned round again, Katie King had vanished for ever. That is to say,
she had not been re-absorbed in the medium's body, as Spiritualist
theory demands, but had _gone in the opposite direction while his back
was turned_!

Now there you have the most wonderful, classic, historic materialization
in the whole Spiritualist history. It is attested by a distinguished man
of science. It is endorsed by all the Spiritualist leaders of our time.
And it is piffle from beginning to end. The evidence would not justify a
man in drowning a mouse. The control was ridiculously inadequate. The
imposture was palpable. If Sir W. Crookes had taken the scientific
precaution of spreading a few tacks on the carpet, or waxing a bent pin
in the ghost's chair, he would have heard the Hackney dialect at its
richest. It was reserved for two Oxford undergraduates to show Sir W.
Crookes how to investigate ghosts. They seized "Marie," Florrie's next
spirit, in 1880; and they found they had in their arms the charming
Florence, in her _lingerie_. Crookes had never searched the ample black
velvet dress she used to wear.

It is hardly worth while running over all the ghostly frauds since then,
but a word about Florrie's friend and contemporary, Miss Showers, will
be found instructive. Miss Showers was a really unpaid medium; though
she received a good deal in the way of jewellery and other presents from
admirers of her fair and aristocratic ghost, "Lenore Fitzwarren." She
was a general's daughter, and above suspicion. No one dreamed of
searching her. On one occasion she allowed Florence Cook to peep into
her cabinet; and Florence--hawks do not pick out hawks' eyes--assured
the public that she plainly saw Miss Showers and "Lenore," and even a
second ghost, simultaneously. But, alas for the fair Lenore! Sergeant
Cox, who was very sceptical, had Miss Showers at his country-house in
1874; and Miss Cox, a born daughter of Eve, tried to draw the curtain
and peep into the cabinet. Miss Showers fought for her curtain, and the
ghostly headdress fell off, and the game was up.

This was only four months after the exposure of Florence Cook. The two
most certainly genuine and respectable mediums in England were unmasked
within four months. R. D. Owen's "Katie King" had been exposed in
America in the previous year, the last sad year of the old man's life.

One by one the others followed. In spite of darkness, in spite of solemn
promises extracted from sitters not to break the circle or seize the
ghost, the materializers were all exposed. One man shot a ghost with
ink, and the ink was found on the medium. Stuart Cumberland squirted
cochineal on a ghost, and the medium could not wash it away. One
American with a gun had a shot at a ghost. At another place tin-tacks
were strewn on the floor, and the spirit's language was painful to hear.
In 1876 Eglinton was exposed by Mr. Colley; he had in his trunk the
beard and draperies of his ghost "Abdullah." In 1877 Miss Wood was
caught at Blackburn, and Dr. Monck was caught and sent to jail. In 1878
Rita and Williams were caught, with all their tawdry ghost-properties,
at Amsterdam. Spiritualists were getting a little nervous, though as a
rule they accepted every excuse. The medium had acted "unconsciously,"
or under the influence of evil spirits. Sir A. C. Doyle boasts that it
is Spiritualists who weed out frauds. On the contrary, they have shown a
very grave willingness to accept the flimsiest excuses and reinstate the
medium. Miss Wood was exposed, for instance, in 1877. They at once
admitted her defence, that she had been quite unconscious in
impersonating the ghost, and she went on. In 1882 a sceptical sitter
seized the "pretty little Indian girl" who came out of the cabinet while
Miss Wood was entranced in it; and the Indian girl-ghost was Miss Wood
walking on her knees, swathed in muslin.

Ah, but this is ancient history, your Spiritualist friend says. Listen!
About fifteen years ago, when I was already making that inquiry into
Spiritualism which Spiritualists say I have never made, I was told by a
group of London Spiritualists, all cultivated men and women, that it was
useless to go the round of the mediums who advertised in _Light_, since
they were "all frauds." I was told that the one genuine medium in London
was a certain F. G. F. Craddock, who performed in a studio at the back
of Mr. Gambier Bolton's house. The minor phenomena I saw did not impress
me, and I asked to be allowed to see these wonderful materializations of
Mr. Craddock. Three ghosts--a nun, a clown, and a Pathan--walked the
room (successively) while Craddock sat (unseen) in a trance. I saw
pictures of these materialized forms, and was told that they were
accurate. But before I could get admission Craddock left, and he began
to hold sittings for his own profit at Pinner. And on March 18, 1906,
the "ghost" was seized, in the usual way, and found to be Craddock. On
June 20 (see the _Times_ of June 21) Craddock was fined ten pounds, and
five guineas cost, at Edgware Police Court, on the charge "that he,
being a rogue and a vagabond, did unlawfully use certain subtle craft,
means, or device, by palmistry or otherwise, to deceive the said Mark
Mayhew and others." He had been controlled as carelessly as F. Cook was
in 1874. He had smuggled in masks and drapery, and impersonated his

After all, Sir A. C. Doyle may say, in his blunt way, this was 1906. I
do not know if he knows it--he seems to have an exceedingly limited
knowledge of his own movement--but _Craddock is giving
materialization-séances in or near London to-day_; and prominent
Spiritualists know it, and condone it, on the ground that _some_ of his
phenomena are genuine.

The imposture has continued to flourish in all parts of the Spiritualist
world since 1906. In 1907 it was the turn of Marthe Beraud, of whom I
will say more presently. In 1908 exposure fell upon Miller, the most
famous of the American materializing mediums. Such was his repute that
the French Spiritualists invited him to Paris, and were delighted with
him. The figures which appeared while he sat _before_ the cabinet were
suspiciously like dolls, but there was no mistake about the "beautiful
girl" (in dull, red light) who came out, and offered her hand, when
Miller was (presumably) inside the cabinet. But when the spirits
announced that it was improper to strip and search him, and when they
said that, though he was an "unpaid" medium, they must make him a nice
little present before he went back to San Francisco, there was a chill
in the Spiritualist world. And when he produced the ghosts of Luther's
wife and Melanchthon, when they found bits of tulle and a perfumed cloth
in the cabinet after a séance, they sent Miller back to America without
his present.

This fiasco, which agitated the Spiritualist world in the beginning of
1909, had not yet been forgotten when, in October of the same year, Frau
Anna Abend and her husband were arrested by the police at Berlin. Frau
Abend was the leading German medium. Strings of motor-cars stretched
before her door of an afternoon. For several years she and her husband
had duped and fascinated Berlin by their accurate knowledge of the dead
you wished to see. You heard on every side, what you hear on every side
in London to-day: "I was _quite_ unknown to the medium," and "She could
not _possibly_ know by natural means what the spirits told me." The
police thought otherwise. They found in her cabinet tulle enough to
drape six ghosts; and they found in her house quite a detective-bureau
of information about dead folk and possible sitters, and a secret
address to which she had the flowers sent which her spirits would
produce as "apports." The whole machinery of her information and
trickery was laid bare. Was she ruined? Not a bit of it. She and her
husband got off on technical grounds, and the Spiritualists showered
congratulations on them and set them up again.[6]

In 1910 our Spiritualist journal, _Light_, which is so zealous to root
out fraud, announced that a really genuine materializing medium had
appeared in Costa Rica. It seemed a safe distance away, but Professor
Reichel, of France, had actually been to Costa Rica and found it a
flagrant imposture at the very time when _Light_ was confirming the
faith of English Spiritualists with the glorious news.

Ofelia Corralès, the medium in question, was the daughter of a high
civic functionary of San José; an _unpaid_ medium, you notice. As soon
as Reichel arrived he found that the wonderful manifestation which the
Spiritualist journals of the world had announced was well known locally
to be a hoax. The ghost was a servant-girl, who was recognized by
everybody, smuggled in at the back door. Ofelia, under pressure,
admitted this. Her "spirit-control," she explained, could not
"materialize," so directed her to bring in this girl, who resembled her
"in the last incarnation but one." Sometimes her mother took the part,
and she was one night embraced by an ardent Costa Rican sitter. Reichel
assisted at some of her performances, but the girl declined to
materialize a ghost. What she did get was a chorus of ghostly voices in
the dark. It says something for the robustness of Professor Reichel's
psychic faith that, though the music was "rotten," though the whole
family was suspect and all the members of it were present, though he
caught the girl cheating and her "ghost" was an acknowledged imposture,
he believed that this music was a "genuine" phenomenon! He was not going
to make a journey to Costa Rica for nothing.

To English Spiritualists this case ought to be particularly interesting,
because among the gentle Ofelia's admirers in San José was an
Englishman, Mr. Lindo, and it was he who sent the outrageous account to
_Light_. According to him--and he was present--they all saw Ofelia
floating in the air. Now, Reichel had taken with him some phosphorized
paper, and by the light of this he saw that Ofelia was standing on a
stool. In fact, she fell off the stool, and was ignominiously exposed.
What is worse, Reichel says (_Psychische Studien_, April, 1911, p. 224)
that he had expressly warned Lindo, who used his name, that he "would
not be mixed up with such a burlesque," and that the minutes of the
sittings were grossly exaggerated by Ofelia's father. So much for
first-hand Spiritualist testimony in _Light_. The French _Annales des
Sciences Psychiques_ gave an equally false account. The German
_Psychische Studien_ alone called it "a conglomerate of stupidity and
lies." It certainly was; but when the whole truth was known _Light_
mildly described it as "a girlish prank." It was calculated and
shameless fraud.

A few months later it was the turn of Lucia Sordi, a famous Italian
medium, a young married woman of the peasant class, assisted by her two
girls. Her marvels put Eusapia Palladino in the shade. The guests were
not merely touched, but bitten! A man's hat was brought from the hall
and put on his head. The cat was brought in through the solid walls. The
table was not merely lifted up, but carried into the hall. Professor
Tanfani and other scientific men were taken in. Four "materialized
spirits" seemed to be in the room at once, while Lucia was bound to her
chair. They fastened her in a crate, and it made little difference. In
1911 Baron von Schrenck-Notzing went to Rome and exposed her. She could
get out of any bandages. But when the War broke out she was still
occupying the leisure hours of certain Italian professors.

Meantime, Dr. Imoda, of Turin, university teacher of science, was
investigating the marvels of Linda Gazerra. Linda was not exactly an
unpaid medium, but she was the cultivated daughter of a professional
man. Being a lady and a good Catholic, she could not, of course, be
stripped and searched. So she did wonderful things, which Imoda gravely
watched and described and photographed for three years. Her "control"
was "Vincenzo," a young officer who had been killed in a duel; and a
terrible chap he was to choose so respectable and pious a medium. Things
simply flew about when he was at work. At other times she "apported"
birds and flowers, and the ghosts that materialized beside her--you
could plainly see both her and the ghost--were very pretty, though
remarkably flat-faced, and fond of muslin. As Linda's hands were
controlled by the sitters, it did not matter that she insisted on
absolute darkness until she pleased to say "Foco" ("Light") and let you
take a photograph. She had a three years' run. Then Schrenck-Notzing
studied her at Paris in the spring of 1911. She treated him to a
"witches' Sabbath," he says. But he soon found that her feet were not
where a lady ought to keep her feet. He felt a spirit-touch, grasped the
touching limb, and found that he had the virtuous Linda's foot. Then he
sewed her in a sack, and the spirits were powerless. Her
materializations and tricks were simple. She brought her birds and
flowers and muslin and masks (or pictures) in her hair (which was
largely false, and never examined) and her underclothing, and she, by a
common trick, released her hands and feet from control to manipulate

This Baron Schrenck, you think, was a terrible fellow at exposures.
Unhappily, our last instance must be the exposure of his own medium, Eva
C. This will fitly crown the chapter for two reasons. First, because Sir
A. C. Doyle recommends her to us as a genuine materializing medium of
our own times. He says in the Debate that, while Spiritualists have been
much "derided" for claiming that spirits build up temporary forms out of
the medium's body, "recent scientific investigation shows that their
assertion was absolutely true. (Cheers.)" I quote the printed Debate (p.
32), and it will be recognized that here at least I am not shirking my
opponent's strongest evidence, for Sir A. C. Doyle at once explains
that he means the case of Eva C. He gave his own (quite inaccurate)
version of the facts, and, to the delight of his supporters, he went

     Don't you think it is simply the insanity of incredulity to waive
     that aside? Imagine discussing what happened in 1866 ... when you
     have scientific facts of this sort remaining unanswered.

So, you see, I was very heavily punished in that contest, and I have to
try to redeem my "insanity"; but perhaps the reader will remember what
Sir A. C. Doyle forgot, that he had stipulated that I should open the
debate and _deal with his books_. No doubt I was quite free to take
other evidence also, but I had an idea that, since this evidence was
published in 1914 and Sir Arthur's books were published in 1918 and
1919, he had not mentioned it because he disdained it.

The other reason why the case of Eva C. is important is because it shows
us modern scientific men at work. In the earlier days of the movement
faking was easy. No one searched a medium, especially a lady medium. She
could have yards of butter-cloth or muslin and even dolls or masks under
her skirts. Even now the ordinary medium is not searched, as a rule. A
friend of mine went recently to a materializing medium near London--it
is all going on still--and was allowed to feel the medium over his
clothes. He could easily tell that the man had yards of muslin wrapped
round his body, but he said nothing, and he got his money's worth; a man
dressed in muslin, in a bad light, being recognized by Spiritualists as
a deceased relative. Most materializations are still the medium in a
mask or beard and muslin. In some cases, in very poor light, the ghost
is merely a white rag, a picture, or even a faint patch of light from a
lantern, or a phosphorized streak.

Now we come to the "scientific facts." Half the professors and other
scientific men quoted as adherents by modern Spiritualist writers and
speakers are not Spiritualists at all. Flammarion, Ochorowicz, Foa,
Bottazzi, Richet, de Vesme, Schrenck-Notzing, Morselli, Flournoy,
Maxwell, Ostwald, etc., are not, and never were, Spiritualists. Most of
them regard Spiritualism as childish and mischievous. But they believe
that mediums have remarkable psychic powers, and they admit levitations
and (in many cases) materializations. They think that a mysterious force
of the living medium, not spirits, does these things, and they talk of a
"new science." I agree with them that the idea of spirits strolling
along from the Elysian fields to play banjoes and lift tables and make
ghosts for us is rather peculiar, but I am not sure that _their_ idea is
much less peculiar. However, they promise us research under scientific
conditions, and they say that they have got materializations under such
conditions. "Eva C." is the grand example.

Who is this mysterious lady? I have already let the reader into the
secret. Sir A. C. Doyle may justly plead that he does not read German;
and the French version of her exploits is, he may be surprised to hear,
very different from Baron Schrenck's fuller version in German, and very
wrong and misleading. But does Sir Arthur never read the _Proceedings of
the Society for Psychical Research_?

As long ago as July, 1914, it contained a very good article on Marthe
Beraud, which tells most of the facts (except about her morals), and
quite openly disdains these wonderful photographs which have made such
an impression on Sir A. C. Doyle. From that article, which betrays, in
the official organ of the Society, almost the same "insanity of
incredulity" as I did, he would have learned things that might have
saved him from the worst "howler" of the Debate. It tells that "Eva C.,"
as was well known all over the continent in 1914, was Marthe Beraud, the
medium of the "Villa Carmen materializations" in Algiers in 1905. It
gives a lengthy report on the case by an Algiers lawyer, M. Marsault,
who knew the family at the Villa Carmen intimately, and often saw the
performances; and this report contains an explicit confession by Marthe
that she had no abnormal powers whatever. To excuse herself she said
that there was a trap-door in the room, and "ghosts" were introduced by
others. That was a lie, for there was no trap-door; and those who
obstinately wished to believe in the ghosts rejected the whole of
Marsault's weighty evidence on the ground that _he_ said there was a

I have before me photographs of the Algiers ghost and of Eva C.'s ghost.
They plainly show Marthe dressed up as a ghost, in the familiar old way,
while Professor Richet gravely photographs her, and Sir Oliver Lodge
recommends these things to our serious notice. However, Marthe found
Algiers unhealthy after this, and she returned to France and set up in
the materializing trade. Mme. Bisson found her and adopted her, and
changed her name; and Baron von Schrenck-Notzing settled down to a three
years' study of her marvellous performances. It was on the strength of
his book and photographs that Miss Verrall in 1914 (in the _Proceedings
S. P. R._) gave a verdict not much different from my own. She found
some evidence of abnormal power, and a great deal of fraud. I see no
evidence whatever of abnormal _psychic_ power if--it is not clear--this
is what Miss Verrall means. Yet Sir A. C. Doyle, who seems to know
nothing about the matter beyond Mme. Bisson's worthless work, puts the
facts before a London audience in the year 1920 in the language I have

In the beginning Marthe plainly impersonated the ghost, as Baron
Schrenck admits. He believes that she did it unconsciously. The sooner
that excuse for fraudulent mediums is abandoned the better. She was
quite obviously _not_ in a trance, though she pretended to be,
throughout the whole three years. For smaller "ghosts" (white patches,
streaks, arms, etc.) she used muslin, gloves, rubber--all sorts of
things. As a rule, she knew when they were going to let off the
magnesium-flare and photograph her. She had had ample time behind the
curtain to arrange her effects. In one photograph, taken too suddenly,
she has a white rag on her knee, which would look like a hand in the red
light, and her real hand is holding the "ghost" over her head! After
that Baron Schrenck sadly admitted that she used her hands. Mme. Bisson
does not; so Sir Arthur does not know this. In another photograph she is
supposed to accept a cigarette in a materialized third hand. It is
obviously her bare foot, and, if you look closely, you see that her
"face" is a piece of white stuff pinned to the curtain. She is really
leaning back and stretching up her foot. The book reeks with cheating.

After a time she began to stick or paste on the cabinet or the curtain
pictures cut out of the current illustrated papers, and daubed with
paint, provided with false noses, or adorned with beards and moustaches.
President Wilson has a heavy cavalry moustache and a black eye; but the
glasses, collar, tie, and tie-pin, and even the marks of the scissors,
are unmistakable. Baron Schrenck was forced to admit that dozens of
pinholes were found (not by him) on the cabinet-wall, and that the pins
must have been smuggled in, deceptively, in spite of a control which he
claimed to be perfect. In fact, poor Baron Schrenck was driven from
concession to concession until his case was very limp. Of all these
things Sir A. C. Doyle knew nothing; and, although he had the portrait
of President Wilson in his hands at the Queen's Hall, only disguised by
a moustache and a few daubs of paint, he assured the audience he
believed that it was the ectoplasm of the medium's body moulded by
spirit forces into a human form!

The point of interest to us is to find how the medium concealed her
trappings. No medium was ever more rigorously controlled, yet the fraud
is obvious. The answer shows that you can almost never be sure of your
medium. She was stripped naked before every sitting and _sewn_ into
black tights. Her mouth and hair were always examined. Occasionally her
sex-cavity was examined. South African detectives have told me how this
receptacle is used for smuggling diamonds, and, as Marthe was rarely
examined there by a competent and reliable witness, she probably often
used it. Dr. Schrenck admits that the outlet of her intestinal tube was
scarcely ever examined until very late in the inquiry, and an
independent doctor gave positive reason to suspect that she used this.
There is only one photograph in the book that shows a ghost which,
tightly wrapped up (and nearly all show plain marks of folding, as Baron
Schrenck admits), might be too large for such concealment; and the
careful reader will find that on these occasions there was no control at
all! They were impromptu sittings, suddenly decided upon by Marthe

There is strong reason to believe that usually she swallowed her
material and brought it up at will from her gullet or stomach. More than
a hundred cases of this power are known, and there is much positive
evidence that Marthe was a "ruminant." She sometimes bled copiously from
the mouth and gullet, and she used the mouth much to manipulate the
gauzy stuff. When I mentioned this well-known theory of Marthe Beraud
Sir Arthur laughed. He said that he doubted if I had read the book I
professed to have read, because Marthe had a net sewn round her head,
which "disproved" my theory. He summoned me to retract. He said I had
"slipped up pretty badly."

Well, the theory was not mine, but that of a doctor who had studied
Marthe, and who has little difficulty in dealing with the net. Had it
not been the end of the debate, however, our audience would have heard a
surprising reply. They would have learned that the net was used only in
_seven_ sittings out of hundreds, and that the medium then compelled
them to abandon it. They would have learned that the net, instead of
"not making the slightest difference to the experiments," as Sir A. C.
Doyle says, made _four_ out of these _seven_ sittings completely barren
of results! And they would have further learned that when the net was
on, and Marthe could not use her mouth, she stipulated that the back of
her clothing should be left open.

Just one further detail of this sordid imposture. I said that on one
occasion Marthe allowed the very title of the paper out of which she cut
her portraits, _Le Miroir_, to appear in the photograph, and gave it a
spiritual meaning. Now, that is Mme. Bisson's version. But Baron
Schrenck's version is in flagrant contradiction, and an examination of
the photographs proves that he is right. The words were caught,
_accidentally_, by a camera placed in the cabinet, and the excuse was
concocted the next day!

Enough of these miserable "materializations." They are always dishonest.
Every materializing medium has been found out. Almost since the birth of
the movement there have been, and are to-day, hundreds of these men and
women, paid and unpaid, who have masqueraded as ghosts, or duped their
sitters in a dull red light with muslin and butter-cloth and
phosphorized paper, with dolls and masks and stuffed gloves and
stockings and rubber arms. If Spiritualists would persuade us that they
are scrupulously honest, they must drive the last of these people out of
their fold, and they must expunge every reference to these
materializations from their literature. When we get such phenomena with
a medium who has been searched by competent and independent witnesses,
whose body-openings have been sealed and clothing changed, in a cabinet
set up by independent inquirers, with _each_ hand and foot controlled by
a separate man, or in a good light, we may begin to talk. Never yet has
the faintest suggestion of a phenomenon been secured under such


[6] I take this from the German psychic journal, _Psychische Studien_
Nov., 1909.



I now pass at once to a class of Spiritualistic manifestations which
would be put forward by any well-educated occultist as the most
authentic of all. Reference was made a few pages back to a large group
of scientific and professional men who believe in what they call
"mediumistic phenomena." They are not Spiritualists, and it is one of
the questionable features of recent Spiritualist literature that they
are often described as such. Thus the astronomers Flammarion and
Schiaparelli are quoted. But Flammarion says repeatedly in his latest
and most important book (_Les forces naturelles inconnues_, 1907) that
he is not and never was a Spiritualist (see p. 581), and he includes a
long letter from Schiaparelli, who disavows all belief even in the
phenomena (p. 93). Professor Richet, who believes in materializations,
is not a Spiritualist. Professor Morselli, who also accepts the facts,
speaks of the Spiritualist interpretation of them as "childish, absurd,
and immoral." The long lists of scientific supporters which the
Spiritualists publish are in part careless or even dishonest.

But such professors as Richet, Ochorowicz, de Vesme, Flournoy, etc., and
men like Flammarion, Carrington, Maxwell, etc., do believe that raps and
other physical phenomena are produced by abnormal powers of the medium.
They believe that when the medium sits in or before the cabinet, in
proper conditions, the floor and table are rapped, the furniture is
lifted or moved about, musical instruments are played, and impressions
are made in plaster, although the medium has not done it with his or her
hands or feet. As I said, these scientific men scorn the idea that
"spirits" from another world play these pranks. They look for unknown
natural forces in the medium. They _think_ that they have excluded
fraud. We shall see. Meantime, the assent of so many scientific men to
the phenomena themselves gives this class of experiences more
plausibility than others.

Most of these men base their opinion upon the remarkable doings of the
Italian medium, Eusapia Palladino, and we shall therefore pay particular
attention to her. But Spiritualists rely for these things on a very
large number of mediums. In fact, some of our leading English
Spiritualists do not believe in Palladino at all, having detected her in
fraud. We must therefore first examine the evidence put before us by

We begin with the story of the Fox family in America in 1848, which
admittedly inaugurated modern Spiritualism. Since Spiritualists
commemorate, in 1920, the "seventy-second" anniversary of the foundation
of their religion, I will surely not be accused of wasting time over
trivial or irrelevant matters in going back to 1848. As, however, this
is not a history, I must deal with this matter very briefly.

In March, 1848, a Mr. and Mrs. Fox, of Hydesville, a very small town of
the State of New York, had their domestic peace disturbed by mysterious
and repeated rappings, apparently on their walls and floors.
Swedenborgians and Shakers had by that time familiarized people with the
idea of spirit, and the neighbours were presently informed that the raps
took an intelligent form, and replied "Yes" or "No" (by a given number
of raps) to questions. The Foxes stated that the raps came from the
spirit of a murdered man, and later they said that they had dug and
found human bones. These raps were clearly associated with the two
girls, Margaretta (aged fifteen) and Katie or Cathie (aged twelve). A
third, a married elder sister, named Leah--at that time Mrs. Fish, and
later Mrs. Underhill--came to Hydesville, and, at her return to
Rochester, took Margaretta with her. Leah herself was presently a
"medium." The excitement in rural America was intense. Mediums sprang up
on every side, and the Foxes were in such demand that they could soon
charge a dollar a sitter. The "spirits," having at last discovered a way
of communicating with the living, rapped out all sorts of messages to
the sitters. In a few years table-turning, table-tilting, levitation,
etc., were developed, but the "foundation of the religion" was as I have
described in 1848.

Towards the close of 1850 three professors of Buffalo University formed
the theory that the Fox girls were simple frauds, causing the supposed
raps by cracking their knee joints. At a trial sitting they so placed
the legs and feet of the girls that no raps could be produced. A few
months later a relative, Mrs. Culver, made a public statement, which was
published in the _New York Herald_ (April 17, 1851), that Margaretta Fox
had admitted the fraud to her, and had shown her how it was done.
Neither of these checks had any appreciable effect upon the movement.
From year to year it found new developments, and it is said within three
years of its origin to have won more than a million adherents in the
United States, or more than five times as many as it has to-day.

Our Spiritualists may find it possible, in their solemn commemoration of
1848, to smile at the Buffalo professors and Mrs. Culver, but I have yet
to meet a representative of theirs who can plausibly explain away what
happened in 1888. Margaretta Fox married Captain Kane, the Arctic
explorer, who often urged her to expose the fraud, as he believed it to
be. In 1888 she found courage to do so (_New York Herald_, September 24,
1888). She and Katie, she said, had discovered a power of making raps
with their toe-joints (not knee-joints), and had hoaxed Hydesville.
Their enterprising elder sister had learned their secret, and had
organized the very profitable business of spirit-rapping. The raps and
all other phenomena of the Spiritualist movement were, Mrs. Kane said,
fraud from beginning to end. She gave public demonstrations in New York
of the way it was done; and in October of the same year her younger
sister Cathie confirmed the statement, and said that Spiritualism was
"all humbuggery, every bit of it" (_Herald_, October 10 and 11, 1888).
They agreed that their sister Leah (Mrs. Underhill), the founder of the
Spiritualist movement and the most prosperous medium of its palmiest
days, was a monumental liar and a shameless organizer of every variety
of fraud. That a wealthy Spiritualist afterwards induced Cathie to go
back on this confession need not surprise us.

So much for "St. Leah"--if she is yet canonized--and the foundation of
the Spiritualist religion in 1848. We need say little further about
raps. Dr. Maxwell, the French lawyer and medical student who belongs to
the scientific psychic school which I have noticed, gives six different
fraudulent ways of producing "spirit-raps." He has studied every variety
of medium, including girls about the age of the Fox girls, and found
fraud everywhere. In one case he discovered that the raps were
fraudulently produced by two young men among the sitters; and the normal
character of these men was so high that their conduct is beyond his
power of explanation. He has verified by many experiments that loud raps
may be produced by the knee- and toe-joints, and that even slowly
gliding the finger or boot along the leg of the table (or the cuff,
etc.) will, in a strained and darkened room, produce the noises. In the
dark, of course--Dr. Maxwell roundly says that any sitting in total
darkness is waste of time--cheating is easy. The released foot or hand,
or a concealed stick, will give striking manifestations. Some mediums
have electrical apparatus for the purpose.

If any Spiritualist is still disposed to attach importance to raps, we
may at least ask for these manifestations under proper conditions. Since
spirits can rap on floors, or on the medium's chair, let the table be
abolished. It usually affords a very suspicious shade, especially in red
light, in the region of the medium. Let the medium be plainly isolated,
and bound in limb and joint, and let us then have these mysterious raps.
It has not yet been done.

The same general objection may be premised when we approach the subject
of levitation and the moving of furniture generally. Levitation is a
more impressive word than "lifting," but the inexpert reader may take
it that the meaning is the same. The "spirits" manifest their presence
to the faithful, not by making the table or the medium "light," but by
lifting up it or him. It is unfortunate that here again the spirits seem
compelled by their very limited intelligence to choose a phenomenon
which not only looks rather like the pastime of a slightly deranged
Hottentot, but happens to coincide with just the kind of thing a
fraudulent medium would be disposed to do in a dim light. However, since
quite a number of learned men believe in these things, let us consider
them seriously.

And, with the courage of honest inquirers, let us attack the strongest
manifestations of this power first. Such are the instances in which the
medium himself--spirits respect the proprieties and do not treat
lady-mediums in this way--is lifted from the ground and raised even as
high as the ceiling. When I say that ladies are not treated in this
frivolous way, the informed reader will gather at once that I decline to
take serious notice of the once famous levitation of Mrs. Guppy. Dr.
Russel Wallace was quite convinced that this lady was "levitated" on to
the table, in the dark, and she was no light weight. But we shall be
excused from examining his statement if we recall what the lady claimed
in 1871. Herne and Williams, both impostors, were giving a séance in
Lamb's Conduit Street, and their "spirit-controls" said they would
"apport" the weighty Mrs. Guppy. Three minutes later, although the doors
were locked, and her home was three miles away, she was standing on the
table. She had a wet pen in her hand, and she explained tearfully to the
innocent sitters that she had been snatched by invisible powers from her
books and taken through the solid walls. People like Russel Wallace
still believed in Mrs. Guppy, but I assume that there is no one to-day
who does not see in this case a blatant collusion of three rogues to
cheat the public. I assume that the same contempt will be meted out to
the claim of the Rev. Dr. Monck, who, not to be outdone, stated shortly
afterwards that _he_ had been similarly transported from Bristol to

Probably the modern reader will be disposed to dismiss with equal
contempt the claim that Daniel Dunglas Home was, in the year 1869,
wafted by spirit-hands from one window to another, seventy feet above
the ground, at a house in Victoria Street. But here I must ask him to
pause. This is one of the classical manifestations, one of the
foundations of Spiritualism. Sir A. C. Doyle says that the evidence here
is excellent. Sir William Barrett maintains that the story is
indisputably true. Sir William Crookes says that "to reject the recorded
evidence on this subject is to reject all human testimony whatever." It
is a Spiritualist dogma.

I have shown in the debate with Sir A. C. Doyle that this dogma is based
on evidence that will not stand five minutes' examination. Not one of
these leading Spiritualists can possibly have examined the evidence. No
witness even _claims_ to have seen Home wafted from window to window.
Lord Adare is the only survivor of the three supposed witnesses, and,
when he saw some Press report of my destructive criticism in the Debate,
he sent to the _Weekly Dispatch_ a letter that he had written at the
time. He seemed to think that this letter afforded new evidence. The
interested reader will be amused to find that this letter is precisely
the evidence I had quoted in the Debate, for it was published forty
years ago.

No one professes to have seen Home carried from window to window. Home
told the three men who were present that he was going to be wafted, and
he thus set up a state of very nervous expectation. Sir W. Barrett, who
tells us that "nothing was said beforehand of what they might expect to
see," says precisely the opposite of the truth. Both Lord Crawford and
Lord Adare say that they were warned. Then Lord Crawford says that he
saw the shadow on the wall of Home entering the room horizontally; and
as the moon, by whose light he professes to have seen the shadow, was at
the most only three days old, his testimony is absolutely worthless.
Lord Adare claims only that he saw Home, in the dark, "standing upright
outside our window."[7] In the dark--it was an almost moonless December
night--one could not, as a matter of fact, say very positively whether
Home was outside or inside; but, in any case, he acknowledges that there
was a nineteen-inch window-sill outside the window, and Home could stand
on that.

So there is not only not a shred of evidence that Home went from one
window to another, but the whole story suggests trickery. Home told them
what to expect, and he pretended, in the dark, that he was a "spirit"
whispering this to them. He noisily opened the window in the next room.
He came into their room, from the window-sill, laughing and saying (in
spite of the historic solemnity of the occasion!) that it would be funny
if a policeman had seen him in the air. When Lord Adare went into the
next room, and politely doubted if Home could have gone out by so small
an aperture, Home told him to stand some distance back, and then swung
himself out in a jaunty fashion, as a gymnast would. In fine, it is well
to remember that this was the same D. D. Home who had defrauded a widow
of £33,000, and had been, in the previous year (1868), branded in a
London court as a fraud and an adventurer.

After this we need not linger long over the other "levitations" of Home,
or allow ourselves to be intimidated by the bluster of Sir A. C. Doyle
and Sir W. Barrett. Sir Arthur tells us that "there are altogether on
record some fifty or sixty cases of levitation on the part of Home";
that "Professor Crookes saw Home levitated twice"; and that "as he
floated round the room he wrote his name above the pictures." It is a
pity that Sir A. C. Doyle does not tell people that Home did all these
wonderful things in the dark, and that in most cases the people present
merely had Home's word for it that he was "floating round the room." The
whole evidence for these things has been demolished so effectually by
Mr. Podmore in his _Newer Spiritualism_ (chs. i and ii) that I need say
little here.

No reliable witness, giving us a precise account of the circumstances,
has ever claimed that he saw Home off the ground and clear of all
furniture. Sir W. Crookes says that he saw Home, in poor light, rise six
inches for a space of ten seconds. It is a poor instalment of miracle;
but I am obliged to add that Crookes was at the other side of the room,
and he confesses that he did not see Home's feet leave the ground!
Crookes says that on one occasion he was allowed to pass his hands
under Home's feet; but he tells this wonderful exploit twenty-three
years after the event (in 1894), and he does not give precise
indications where the hands were when he examined the feet. Mr. John
Jones saw Home rise in 1861; but he does not say that he saw Home's
hands, and he admits that his muscles were so taut that he calls them
"cataleptic." It is equally true that Home wrote his name above the
pictures; but no one had examined the spots before the séance, and no
one could see if he stood on anything to reach them during the séance,
as it was pitch dark. The only apparently good case is an occasion when
a sitter says that, in the dark, he saw Home's figure _completely_ cross
the rather lighter space of the window, feet first, and then cross it
again head first. But it happens that on this occasion there are two
witnesses, and the less rhetorical of the two expressly says that the
shadow on the blind was at first only "the feet and part of the legs,"
and then (after Home had _announced_ that the spirits were turning him
round) only "the head and face." Any gymnast could do that. The whole of
these recorded miracles reek with evidence of charlatanry. The lights
were always put out, and Home in nearly all cases _said_ that he was
rising, and then _told_ them that he was floating about various parts of
the room.

Still worse is the evidence for Home's occasional "elongation." The
picture of Sir W. Crookes gravely measuring the height of this brazen
impostor, as he alternately draws himself in and stretches out, is as
pathetic as the picture of him standing with a bottle of phosphorus in a
bedroom at Hackney while two girls make a fool of him. It is just as
pathetic that men like Sir A. C. Doyle and Sir W. Barrett assure the
public that they believe these things, when they have, apparently, not
examined the evidence. To believe that in the course of a few seconds
certain spiritual powers, who cannot unravel for us the smallest
scientific problem, can so alter that marvellous world of cells and
tissues which make up a man's body as to make him even six inches
taller, is to believe in a miracle beside which the dividing of the
waters of the Red Sea is child's play. Yet distinguished men of science
and medical men assure the public that they believe this, and believe it
on evidence that has been riddled over and over again.

It was a still earlier fraud, Gordon, who began this trick of mounting
furniture in the dark and saying that the spirits bore him up; but the
"evidence" is not worth glancing at. One might as well ask us to examine
seriously the evidence for the "elongation" of Herne, Peters, Morse, and
all the other impostors of the time, or for the spiritual transit of
Mrs. Guppy and Dr. Monck. Let us rather see what sort of evidence is
furnished in recent times.

It appears that the spirits no longer levitate the mediums themselves.
Although the power is said to be developing as time goes on, the age of
these impressive floatings round pitch-dark rooms is over. The only
instance I have read in the last twenty years is that of Ofelia
Corralès, of Costa Rica, who unfortunately fell off the stool she was
standing on. We have now to be content with the levitation of tables and
the dragging of furniture towards the medium.

Again let us, in order not to waste time, address ourselves at once to
the classical case of Eusapia Palladino. Your common or garden medium,
with his uncritical audience, has a dozen ways of tilting and lifting
tables and pulling furniture about the room. To press on with the hands
or thumbs (with four fingers "above the table" to edify the audience)
and lift with the knees is easy. The same thing can be done by pressure
against the inside of the legs of the table. The foot is still more
useful, for the table is generally light. A confederate is even more
useful. The more artistic medium wears a ring with a slot in it, and has
a strong pin in the table. While his hands seem to be spread out above
the table, he catches the head of the pin in the slot of his ring,
and--the miracle occurs. Other mediums have leather cuffs inside their
sleeves, with a dark piece of iron or a hook projecting to catch the
edge of the table.

But we will take Palladino, who was examined by scores of scientific
men, many of whom to this day believe that at least a large part of her
"phenomena" were genuine. The average man hesitates immediately when he
hears that _everybody_ admits that part of her performances were
fraudulent. She was a "grey" medium, Sir A. C. Doyle says. But he, and
so many others, assure you at once that this is quite natural. She had
real mediumistic powers; but these decay after a time, while the public
still clamours for miracles, and the poor medium is strongly tempted to
cheat. I have already said that Sir Arthur is here even more inaccurate
than he usually is. He says that she was "quite honest" for the first
fifteen years, as any person who studies her record will admit. Let us
briefly study it.

Eusapia Palladino was an Italian working girl, an orphan, who married a
small shopkeeper of Naples. She remained throughout life almost entirely
illiterate, but she came in time to earn "exorbitant fees" (Lombroso's
daughter says) by her séances. She had begun to dabble in Spiritualism,
and lift tables, at the age of thirteen, but she did little and was
quite obscure until 1888, when Professor Chiaia, of Naples, took her up.
He challenged Lombroso to study her, and in 1892 a group of Italian
professors investigated her powers at Naples. That is the beginning of
her public career, and her performances varied little. She sat with her
back to the cabinet--unlike other mediums, she sat outside it--and her
chief trick was to lift off the ground the light table in front of her
while the professors controlled her hands and feet. It was the ghost of
"John King" who did these things, she said; and we remember "John King"
as a classic ghost of the early fraudulent mediums. He rapped on the
table and raised it off the floor; he dragged furniture towards the
medium, especially out of the cabinet behind her; he flung musical
instruments on the table, and prodded and pulled the hair of the
sitters; he made impressions of hands and faces in plaster; and he even
brought very faint ghosts into the room at times.

Lombroso and other professors regarded these things as genuine or due to
an abnormal power of the medium (not to ghosts). In the end of his life,
in fact, Lombroso announced that he had come to believe in the
immortality of the mind, though he still regarded this as material. His
daughter, Gina Ferrero, tells us that at this time he was a physical
wreck, and his mental vitality was very low.[8] However, the professors
of 1892 said that they did not detect fraud. The reader of their report
may think otherwise. They put Eusapia, for instance, on a scale, and
"John King" took seventeen pounds off her weight. Any person can perform
that miracle by getting his toe to the floor while he is on the weighing
machine; and the professors gravely note that, whenever they prevented
Eusapia's dress from touching the floor, she could not reduce her
weight! They note also that she cannot raise the table unless her dress
is allowed to touch it.

In the same year, 1892, Flammarion invited her to Paris. He says frankly
that he caught her cheating more than once. One of her miracles was to
depress the scale of a letter-balance by placing her hands on either
side of it, at some distance from it. Flammarion found that she used a
hair, stretched from hand to hand. His colleague, the astronomer
Antoniadi, who was called in, said that it was "fraud from beginning to

In 1894 Professor Richet, assisted by Mr. Myers and Sir O. Lodge,
examined her at Richet's house, and found no fraud. But Dr. Hodgson
insisted that she released her hands and feet from control and used
them, and Myers invited her to Cambridge in 1895. The result is well
known. In great disgust they reported that she cheated throughout, and
that not a single phenomenon could be regarded as genuine. This was, on
the most generous estimate, seven years after the beginning of her
public career; and Myers, the most conscientious and respected of
English Spiritualists, reported that she must have had "long practice"
in fraud. Yet Sir A. C. Doyle tells the public that she was "quite
honest" for the first fifteen years.

Her admirers were angry, and they continued to guarantee her
genuineness. She became the most famous and most prosperous medium in
the world. In 1897 and 1898 she was again in France, and Flammarion
detected her in fraud after fraud. She released her hands and feet
constantly from control. From 1905 to 1907 she was rigorously examined
by the General Psychological Institute of Paris. They reported constant
trickery and evasion of tests. Sitters were not allowed to put a foot
_on_ her right foot because she had a painful corn on it. One of her
hands must not be _clasped_ by the control because she was acutely
sensitive to pain in that hand. She will not allow a man to stand near
and do nothing but watch her. She wriggles and squirms all the time, and
releases her hands and feet. She learns that, in a photograph they have
taken of one high "levitation" of a stool, it is plainly seen to be
resting on her head, so she allows no more photographs of this. And so
on. Professor G. le Bon got her at his house for a private sitting in
1906. He was able to instal an illumination behind her of which she knew
nothing, and he plainly caught her releasing and using her hand.

In 1910 the Americans tried her. At one sitting Professor Münsterberg
was carefully controlling her left foot, as he thought, when the table
in the cabinet behind her began to move. But one man had stealthily
crept into the cabinet under cover of the dark, and he seized something.
Eusapia shrieked--it was her left foot![9] Then the professors of
Columbia University took Eusapia in hand, and finished her. They had
special apparatus ready for use, but they never used it. In a few
sittings they discovered that she was an habitual cheat, and they
abandoned the inquiry in disgust.

These are the main points in Eusapia's official record. They suffice to
damn her. She cheated from the start to the finish. Her moans and groans
and wriggles habitually enabled her to release her hands and feet from
the men who were supposed to control them. Nothing is more notorious in
her career than that. She pretended that "John King" did everything, yet
she used constantly to announce that "some very fine phenomena would be
seen to-night." She pretended to be in a trance, yet she habitually
called out "E fatto" ("It's done") when something had been accomplished,
in the dark, two feet away from her. She was alive to every suspicious
movement of the sitters, and controlled the light and the photographers.
The impressions of faces which she got in wax or putty were always _her_
face. I have seen many of them. The strong bones of her face impress
deep. Her nose is relatively flattened by the pressure. The hair on the
temples is plain. It is outrageous for scientific men to think that
either "John King" or an abnormal power of the medium _made_ a human
face (in a few minutes) with bones and muscles and hair, and precisely
the same bones and muscles and hair as those of Eusapia. I have seen
dozens of photographs of her levitating a table. On not a single one are
her person and dress entirely clear of the table. In fine, at every
single sitting, from beginning to end, the observers were distracted by
the "ghost." They were prodded and pinched and pushed, and their hair
and whiskers were pulled. It seems a pity that they did not refuse to
continue unless "John King" desisted from this frivolity. It was Eusapia
spoiling their vigilance.

Believers in Eusapia would point to some dozens of things in her record
that these professors, and even conjurers like Carrington, could not
explain. I am quite content to leave them unexplained. We are under no
obligation to explain them or else accept Spiritualism. There is, as
Schiaparelli said, a third alternative: agnosticism. If the majority of
Eusapia's tricks were at one time or other seen to be done by fraud, the
presumption is that the rest were fraud. There are scientific men who
seem to lose their common sense in these inquiries. You might put a
conjurer before them in broad daylight, and they will not see how he
does a single one of his tricks. But when, in a bad light, a lady
conjurer or medium does something which they cannot explain they appeal
to abnormal powers or ghosts. It is neither science nor common sense.

Towards the close of Eusapia's career another powerful Italian
peasant-woman, Lucia Sordi, began to interest the professors. She outdid
Eusapia in some matters. While she sat bound with cords in the cabinet,
a decanter of wine was lifted from the table, and a glass put to the
lips of each sitter. She was eventually exposed, and I will not linger
on her. She could get out of any bonds; and she had two confederates
always, in the shape of her young daughters.

Most recent of all are the phenomena of the "Goligher circle" of
Belfast. A teacher of mechanics, Mr. Crawford, has greatly strengthened
the faith by recording their wonderful exploits in his _Reality of
Psychic Phenomena_ (1916) and _Experiments in Psychical Science_ (1919).
Sir A. C. Doyle is enthusiastic about them, as is his wont. Even Sir W.
Barrett tells us that "it is difficult to believe how the cleverest
conjurer, with elaborate apparatus, could have performed" what he
witnessed. Decidedly, here is something serious. Yet I intend to dismiss
it very briefly. The "circle" consists of seven members of the Goligher
family, and they are all mediums. In other words, there were fourteen
hands and fourteen feet to be watched, in a red light (the worst in the
world for the eye), and this young teacher of science flatters himself
that he controlled them all, and meantime attended to a lot of scales
and other apparatus. We are asked to believe this after four or five
professors repeatedly failed to control the hands and feet of one woman
(Eusapia). Moreover, they were permitted to _hold_ Eusapia's hands and
feet, but Crawford was not permitted to touch the feet of his medium. He
gives no photographs, except of his superfluous scales and tables. The
Goligher family, he says, were most anxious to have photographs taken,
but the "spirits" said it would injure the medium.

When Sir W. Barrett tells the public that "the cleverest conjurer, with
elaborate apparatus," could not do these things, he talks nonsense of
which he ought to be ashamed. There is nothing in the two books that
requires any apparatus at all, or anything more than practice. Raps were
common. They have been since 1848. Mr. Crawford talks of "sledgehammer
blows" and "thunderous noises." As the mediums were never searched, the
raps may have been exceptionally loud, but Mr. Crawford naïvely gives
one detail which puts us on our guard. He one night brought a
particularly sensitive phonograph. The noises that night were
"terrific," he says. He took the record to the offices of _Light_, and
the editor of that journal can do no more than say that the noises were
"clearly audible" (p. 32). So, when Mr. Crawford tells us of strong men
being unable to press down the levitated table, we will take a pinch of

The "table" (really a light stool) usually lifted weighed two pounds.
Sir A. C. Doyle assured his audience that this was lifted as high as the
ceiling. On the contrary, Mr. Crawford expressly says that it never rose
more than four feet; which is, I find by "scientific" experiment, the
height to which a young lady, sitting on a chair, could raise such a
stool on her foot. A most remarkable coincidence. It is a further
remarkable coincidence that the young lady's weight increased, when an
object was levitated, by just the weight of that object, less about two
ounces which some other person took over (a steadying finger, for
instance). It is an even more remarkable coincidence that, when Mr.
Crawford asked for an impression of the ghostly machinery which made the
raps, the mark he got on paper was "something of an oval shape, about
two square inches in area" (p. 192); which is singularly like a young
lady's heel. Similarly, when he asked for an impression in a saucer of
putty, the mark he describes--and carefully omits to photograph for
us--is precisely the mark of a young lady's big toe with a threaded
material on it. It is further curious that this remarkable psychic
power, which can lift a ten-pound table, could not lift a _white_
handkerchief a fraction of an inch; which prompts the painful reflection
that a dark foot might be visible if it touched a white handkerchief.

Mr. Crawford's books are really too naive. He asked Kathleen, by way of
control experiment, to show him if she _could_ raise the stool on her
foot; and he asks us to believe that her very obvious wriggles and
straining prove that this was not the usual lifting force. He puts her
on a scale, and asks the "ghosts" to take a large amount of matter out
of her body. He is profoundly impressed when her weight decreases by 54½
pounds; and he asks us to believe that ghosts have taken 54½ pounds of
flesh and fat out of the fair Kathleen and "laid it on the floor." A
simpler hypothesis is that she got her toe to the floor, as Eusapia did.
Mr. Crawford ought to leave ghosts for a while, and take a course of
human anatomy and physiology. His mechanical knowledge enables him to
sketch a diagram of a "cantilever," constructed out of the medium's
body, and reaching from it to the centre of the table, a distance of
eighteen inches, or the length of Kathleen's leg from knee to foot. But
how in the name of all that is reasonable this cantilever is worked from
the body end, without wrenching the young lady's "innards" out of joint,
passes the subtlest imagination. The "spirits" were consulted as to the
way they did it. By a final peculiar coincidence it transpired that they
knew just as much about science as Kathleen Goligher; and that was

This is a very long chapter, but the phenomena it had to discuss are the
most serious in Spiritualist literature, and I was eager to omit
nothing which is deemed important. Let me close it with a short account
of an historical occurrence, which is at the same time a parable. We are
often told that the medium was "physically incapable" of doing this or
the other. Here is an interesting illustration of human possibilities.

In 1846 all Paris was busy discussing "the electric girl." Little
Angélique Cottin, a village child of thirteen summers, a very quiet and
guileless-looking maid, exuded the "electric fluid" (ghosts were not yet
in fashion) in such abundance that the furniture almost danced about the
room. When she rose from her chair it flew back, even if a man held it,
and was often smashed. A heavy dining-table went over at a touch from
her dress. A chair held by "several strong men" was pushed back when she
sat on it. The Paris Academy of Sciences examined her, and could make
nothing of her. The chairs she rose from were sent crashing against the
wall, and broken. But one night, when the crowd gathered about her to
see the marvels, a wicked old sceptic watched her closely from a
distance. Only that afternoon a heavy dining-table, with its load of
dishes, had gone over. The child saw the sceptic's eye, yet wanted to
entertain the crowd. There was a struggle of patience between sceptic
and child for _two hours_, and at last age won. He saw her move, and
demanded an examination; and they found the bruise on her leg caused by
knocking over the heavy table. It was all over. She had developed a
marvellous way of using the muscles of her legs and buttocks
instantaneously and imperceptibly. This was, says Flammarion, "the end
of this sad story in which so many people had been duped by a poor
idiot." He is wrong on two points. The child was by no means an idiot;
and this was only the beginning, not the end. We do well to remember
what this child of thirteen could do.[10]


[7] The account which he gives in the _Dispatch_ (March 21, 1920) is
precisely the same as his account (which I quoted verbatim in the
Debate) in his _Experience of Spiritualism with D. D. Home_, pp. 82-3.

[8] _Cesare Lombroso_ (1915), p. 416. Much is suppressed in the English
translation of his book.

[9] Mr. Hereward Carrington, who believes in the genuineness of
Eusapia's powers, makes light of this. He misses the main point. In the
minutes of the sitting, which he gives, it is expressly stated by the
controllers at this point that they have both Eusapia's hands and feet
secure. So we cannot trust such minutes when they say that the control
was perfect.

[10] Flammarion, _Les forces naturelles inconnues_, pp. 299-310.



Before me, as I write, are two spirit photographs which have gone at
least part of the round of the Press, and confirmed the consoling belief
in thousands of hearts. One is a photograph of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
and behind him, peeping over his shoulder, is a strange form which has,
he says, "a general but not very exact resemblance to my son." The other
photograph is supplied by the Rev. W. Wynne. It bears the ghostly faces
of Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone, with whom Mr. Wynne had been acquainted; and
the text says that the plate was exposed for Mr. and Mrs. Wynne and
received these ghostly imprints. Both these photographs came from "the
Crewe Spiritual Circle," which has done so much in recent years to
strengthen the faith.

Let me first make a few general remarks on spirit photography. Everybody
to-day has an elementary idea what taking a photograph means. A chemical
mixture, rich in certain compounds of silver, is spread as a film over
the glass plate which you buy at the stores. The rays of light--chiefly
the ultra-violet or "actinic" rays--which come from the sun (or the
electric lamp) are reflected by a body upon this plate, through the
lenses of the camera, and form a picture of that body by fixing the
chemicals on the plate. The lens is essential in order to concentrate
the rays and give an image, instead of a mere flood of light. The object
which reflects the light--whether it be the ordinary light or the
actinic rays--must be material. Ether does not reflect light, for light
is a movement of ether.

Spiritualists have such vague ideas as to what can and cannot happen
that they overlook these elementary details altogether. Sometimes they
ask us to believe that a medium can get the head of a ghost on a plate,
without a camera, by merely placing his or her hand on the packet
containing the plate. Even if there were a materialized spirit present,
it could make no _image_ on the plate unless the rays were properly
concentrated through lenses. But the whole idea of spirits hovering
about and making images on photographic plates because a man called a
medium puts his hand on the camera is preposterous. That would be magic
with a vengeance! Even if we suppose that the spirits have material
bodies--ether bodies would not do--which reflect only the actinic rays,
and so are not visible to the eye, the idea remains as absurd as ever.
To say that the invisible material body of Mr. Gladstone (if anybody is
inclined to believe in such a thing) only reflects the rays into the
camera at Crewe when Mr. Hope and Mrs. Buxton, the mediums, put their
hands on the camera, and do not reflect light at all unless these
mediums touch the camera, is to utter an obvious absurdity. The ghosts
are either material or they are not.

We must look for a simpler explanation. Now, when we examine Sir A. C.
Doyle's spirit photograph, we find at once that the candour of that
earnest and conscientious Spiritualist gives us a clue. He tells us how
he bought the plate, examined the camera, and exposed and developed the
plate with his own hands. "No hands but mine ever touched the plate," he
says impressively. We shall see presently that that need not impress us
in the least. What is important is that Sir Arthur adds: "On examining
with a powerful lens the face of the 'extra' I have found such a marking
as is produced in newspaper process work." Very few of the general
public would understand the significance of this, but I advise the
reader to take an illustrated book or journal and examine a photograph
in it with a lens (which need not be powerful). He will see at once that
the figure consists of a multitude of dots, and wherever you find an
illustration showing these dots it has been at some time printed in a
book or paper. During a lantern lecture, for instance, you can tell, by
the presence or absence of these dots, whether a slide has been
reproduced from an illustration or made direct from the photographic

Sir A. C. Doyle is candid, but his Spiritualist zeal outruns his reason.
He goes on to say:--

     It is _very possible_ that the picture ... was conveyed on to the
     plate from some existing picture. However that may be, it was most
     certainly supernormal, and not due to any manipulation or fraud.

This is an amazing conclusion. It is not merely "possible," but certain,
that the photo, which he says resembles his son, had been _printed_
somewhere before it got on to his plate. The marks are infallible. It is
further practically certain that, when the son of so distinguished a
novelist died on active service, his photograph would appear in the
Press. It is equally certain that mediums, knowing well that Sir Arthur
and Lady Doyle would presently seek to get into touch with their dead
son, would treasure that photograph. When I add that, as I will explain
presently, there is no need at all for the spirit photographer to touch
the plate, the reader may judge for himself how much "supernormal" there
is about the matter.

Let us glance next at the Gladstone ghost. We are not told if it showed
process marks, but, of course, they need not always be looked for. It
might be taken direct from a photograph in the case of so well known a
couple as the Gladstones. But here again there is a significant
weakness. When you turn the photograph upside down, you discover that
the photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Wynne are on the lower half of the
plate, and inverted! You have to come to this remarkable conclusion, if
you follow the Spiritualist theory, that either the highly respectable
Mr. and Mrs. Wynne or the perfectly puritanical Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone
were _standing on their heads_! For my part, I decline to believe that
Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone have taken to such frivolity in the spirit land.
I prefer to think that the spirit photographer has bungled.

But how could it be done if the plate was never in the hands of the
photographer? In the early days of Spiritualism faking was easy. You put
on an air of piety, and your sitter implicitly trusted you. It was then
quite easy to make a ghost, as every photographer knows. Expose a plate
for half the required time to a young lady dressed as a ghost, then put
the plate away in the dark until a sitter comes and give it a _full_
exposure with him. He is delighted, when the plate is developed, to find
a charming lady spirit, of ghostly consistency, beaming upon him. Double
development, or skilful manipulation of the plate in the dark room, will
give the same result.

This is how the trick was done in the sixties and seventies. A London
photographer, Hudson, made large sums by this kind of trickery. It was
easily exposed--any person who has dabbled in photography knows it--and
often the furniture or carpet behind the ghost could be seen through it.

At last there was a very bad exposure which for a time almost suspended
the trade. At Paris there was a particularly gifted photographer medium
named Buguet. Not only were his ghosts very artistic, but Spiritualists
were able to identify their dead relatives on the photographs. Buguet
came to London and did a roaring trade. But early in 1875 the police of
Paris carried Buguet off to prison and searched his premises. They found
a headless doll or lay figure, and a large variety of heads to fit it.
At first Buguet had had confederates who used to creep quietly behind
the sitter and impersonate the ghost. Then he used to take a
half-exposure photograph of his doll, and so dispense with confederates.
He had a very smart clerk at the door who used, in collecting your
twenty francs, to get from you a little information about the dead
relative you wanted to see. Then Buguet rigged up and dressed a more or
less appropriate doll, gave it a half-exposure, and brought the same
plate to use for his sitter.

One feature of the trial of Buguet should be carefully borne in mind.
Spiritualists are very fond of assuring us that the spirit voice or
message or photograph they obtained from a medium was "perfectly
recognizable." They scout any suggestion that they could be mistaken. Do
they not know the features of their dead son or daughter or wife? During
the trial of Buguet scores of these Spiritualists entered the
witness-box and swore that they had received exact likenesses of their
dead relatives. But Buguet, hoping to get a lighter sentence, confessed
that the same group of heads had served every purpose, and the witnesses
in his favour were all wrong![11]

Buguet got a year in prison, and for a time trade was poor. But new
methods were invented, and spirit photographers are again at work all
over the world, and have been for decades. In country places the old
method may still be followed. Generally, however, the sitter brings his
or her own plate, and is then supposed to be secured against fraud. The
next development was easy enough. A prepared plate was substituted for
the plate you brought. This trick in turn was discovered, and sitters
began to make secret marks on the plates they brought, in order to
identify them afterwards. Then the machinery of the ghost was rigged up
in the camera itself, and you might bring your own plate and mark it
unmistakably with a diamond, if you liked. The ghost appeared on it when
it was developed.

There were several ways of doing this. The first was to cut out the
figure of the ghost in celluloid or some other almost transparent
material and attach it to the lens. When this trick leaked out, a very
tiny figure of the ghost, hidden in the camera, was projected through a
magnifying glass (a kind of small magic-lantern) on to the plate when it
was exposed in the camera. As time went on, sitters began to insist on
examining the camera, and these tricks were apt to be discovered. I
remember an honest and critical Spiritualist telling me, about ten years
ago, that he offered a certain spirit-photographer (who is still at
work) five pounds for a spirit-photograph, if the sitter were permitted
to see every step of the process. The photographer agreed; but when my
friend wanted to examine the camera he at first bluffed, and then
returned the money, saying that that was carrying scepticism too far! He
had the ghost in his camera.

Your modern Spiritualist friend smiles when you tell him of these
tricks. They are prehistoric. To-day you are allowed to examine the
camera, bring your own plate, expose it and develop it yourself. The
logic of the Spiritualist is here just as defective as ever. Because he
has not on this occasion discovered certain forms of trickery which are
now well known, he concludes that there was _no_ trickery. As if
trickery did not evolve like anything else! Spiritualists were just as
certain twenty years ago that there was no possibility of fraud because
they brought their own marked plates; but they were cheated every time.

There are still several ways of making the ghost. Where the sitter is
careless, or an enthusiastic Spiritualist, the old tricks (substitution
of plates, etc.) are used; but there are new tricks to meet the
critical. The ghost may be painted in sulphate of quinine or other
chemicals on the ground-glass screen. Such a figure is invisible when it
is dry. There may be a trick dark-slide, with a plate which will appear
in front of yours. If the photographer develops it for you, he can
skilfully get a ghost on it by holding another plate against yours
(pretending to see how it is developing) in the yellow light. If you
develop it yourself, you use _his_ dish, which is often an ingenious
mechanism. It has glass sides or a glass bottom, and, while the whole
thing is covered up during development, secret lights impress the ghost
on it. An actual case of this sort was exposed in _Pearson's Weekly_ on
January 31, 1920.

When the Spiritualist airily assures us that he has guarded against all
these things (some of which could not be seen at all) we have to
remember that Spiritualist literature teems with cases in which, we are
told, "all precautions against fraud were taken," yet sooner or later
the fraud is discovered. But the possibilities are not yet exhausted. I
once saw a remarkable photograph which Sir Robert Ball had taken of the
famous old ship, the _Great Eastern_. Along the side of it, in enormous
letters, was the name "Lewis"; yet this name was totally invisible to
the naked eye when one looked at the ship. A coat of paint had been put
over the name--the ship had been used by Lewis's as an
advertisement--and concealed it from the eye, yet the sensitive plate
registered it. No scrutiny of the camera or the studio or the dark room
would reveal conjuring of that sort. In fine, there is the possibility
of some compound of radium, or radio-paint, being used at one or other
stage in the process.

No sensible man will pay serious attention to spirit photographs until
one is taken in these conditions; neither plates nor any single part of
the apparatus shall belong to or be touched by the medium. The spirit
photographer shall be brought to an unknown studio, and shall not be
allowed to do more than, under the eye of an expert observer, lay his
hand, at a sufficient distance from the lens, on the outside of a camera
which does not belong to him. That has not been done yet. Until it is
done fraud is certainly not excluded; and any man who uses the medium's
own premises and apparatus is courting deception.

That the ghost on a photograph often resembles a dead relative of the
sitter will surprise no sensible person. It is well known that mediums
collect such photographs, as well as information about the dead. Mr.
Carrington describes in his _Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism_ the
elaborate system they have. They have considerable knowledge of likely
sitters in their own town. In fact, I have clearly enough traced in some
cases that they _first_ gathered information about a man, and _then_ got
an intermediary to persuade him to visit them. He, of course, tells
everybody afterwards that the medium "could not possibly" know anything
about him. Sometimes a Spiritualist takes the precaution of going to a
spirit photographer in a distant town. If he is quite able to conceal
his identity, he will get nothing, or only a common or garden ghost. But
he makes an appointment for a sitting in a few days to try again, and
gives his name and address; and the next mail takes a letter to a medium
in his town asking for information and photographs. As I have previously
said, when the Berlin police arrested Frau Abend and her husband they
found an encyclopædic mass of information about possible sitters.

A case, with which I may conclude this section, is given by Dr. Tuckett
in his _Evidence for the Supernatural_ (pp. 52-3). Mr. Stead was once
delighted to find the ghost of a "brother Boer" on a photograph, and the
clairvoyant photographer mystically informed him that he "got" the name
"Piet Botha," and gathered that he had been shot in the Boer War. Mr.
Stead was jubilant, and the Materialist was nowhere, when he learned
that Piet Botha _had_ been shot in the war. Who in England knew anything
about Piet Botha and his death? But the wicked sceptic got to work, and
he presently discovered that on November 9, 1899, the _Graphic_ had
reproduced a photograph of Piet Botha, who had been shot in the war! A
magnificent case fell completely to pieces.

Spirit-drawings and paintings have drawn out just the same ingenuity on
the part of the mediums. A favourite and impressive form is to let the
sitter choose a blank card and see that it _is_ blank. Then the medium
tears off the corner and hands it to the sitter, so that he will
recognize his own card at the close. The lights are completely
extinguished, the card is laid on the table, and when the gas is re-lit
a very fair picture (still wet) in oil is found to have been painted on
the card. David Duguid persuaded thousands of people of this marvel in
the later decades of the nineteenth century. It was represented that he
was merely a cabinet-maker who, in 1866, came under the control of the
spirits of certain Dutch painters, and was used by them. I learned long
ago in Scotland that the statement that he had never practised drawing
or painting was untrue. It is, in any case, probable that he had torn
the corners off the little paintings he had prepared in advance, and
that it was _these_ corners which he palmed off on the sitter. In the
dark he substituted his painting for the blank card, and the corner
naturally fitted. The fact that the paint was "still wet" need impress
nobody. A touch of varnish easily gives that impression.

Innumerable tricks have been invented by American mediums for fooling
the Spiritualist public in this respect, and in many cases it taxes the
ingenuity of an expert conjurer to find out where the fraud lay. Mr.
Carrington gives a long series of frauds which he has at one time or
other studied. One medium offers you an apparently blank sheet of paper,
and, although nothing more suspicious than laying it under an
innocent-looking blotting-pad can be seen, and there is certainly no
substitution, a photograph appears on it while you wait. If you happen
to be one of those people whom the medium had had in mind as a possible
sitter, or whom he (through an intermediary) induced to come to him, it
may be a photograph of your dead son. The photograph was there,
invisible, all the time. It had been taken on a special paper (solio
paper), and bleached out with bi-chloride of mercury. The blotting-pad
was wet with a solution of hypo, and this suffices to restore the

In other cases the medium, with solemn air, enters his cabinet and draws
the curtain. There is a fantastic theory in the Spiritualist world that
this cabinet, or cloth-covered frame (like a Punch and Judy show),
prevents the "fluid" or force which the medium generates from spreading
about the room and being wasted. Nearly all these convenient theories
and regulations come from the spirits through the mediums; that is to
say, are imposed by the mediums themselves. The closed cabinet, like
charity, covers a multitude of sins. In the case of the spirit-painting
it may have a trap-door or other outlet, through which the medium hands
the blank canvas to a confederate and receives the previously painted

Another medium shows you a blank canvas, and, _almost_ without taking it
out of your sight, produces an elegant, and still wet, oil painting on
it. The painting was there from the start, of course, but a blank canvas
was lightly gummed over it, and all the conjuring the medium had to do
was to strip off this blank canvas while your attention was diverted.
Mediums know that their sitters are profoundly impressed if the paint is
"still wet." I have heard Spiritualists stubbornly maintain that this
proves that the painting had only just been done, and done by
spirit-power, since no man could do it in so short a time. It is a good
illustration of the ease with which they are duped. The picture may have
been painted a week or a month before. Rub it with a little poppy oil
and you have "wet paint."

Mr. Carrington's _Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism_, one of the
richest manuals of mediumistic trickery, has a number of these
picture-frauds. A painting is, when thoroughly dry, covered with a
solution of water and zinc-white. It is then invisible, and you have "a
blank canvas." The picture comes out again by merely washing it with a
sponge. In other cases a painting is done in certain chemicals which
will remain invisible until a weak solution of tincture of iron is
applied; and it may be applied to the back of the canvas. The medium,
Carrington suggests, begs the sitters to sing "Nearer, my God, to Thee,"
to drown the noise, while his confederate creeps behind the canvas and
sprays it with the solution. The picture dawns before their astonished

Perhaps the best illustration is one that Carrington gives in his
_Personal Experiences_, to which I must send the reader for the full
story. Two spinster-mediums of Chicago had a great and profitable
reputation for spirit-painted photographs. I take it that their general
air of ancient virtue and piety disarmed sitters, who are apt to think
that a _fraudulent_ medium will betray himself or herself by criminal
features. You took a photograph of your dead friend, and asked that the
spirits might reproduce it in oils. The medium studied it, and made an
appointment with you at a later date. Perhaps the medium then studied it
again, and made a further appointment. On the solemn day the medium held
a blank canvas up to the window before your eyes, and gradually, first
as a dim dawn of colours, then as a precise figure, the picture appeared
on the canvas. Carrington suggests that she held up to the window two
canvases--a thin blank canvas a few inches in front of the prepared
picture. By deftly and slowly bringing these together with her fingers
she brought about the illusion; and only a little ordinary sleight of
hand was required to get rid of the blank canvas.

These illustrations will suffice to show the reader what subtle and
artful trickery is used in this department of Spiritualism. He will know
what to think when a Spiritualist friend, who could not detect the
simplest conjuring trick, shows him a spirit-photograph and says that he
took care there was no fraud. The ordinary members of the Spiritualist
movement are as honest as any, but their eagerness--natural as it
is--puts them in a frame of mind which is quite unreasonable. The
trickery of this class of mediums has been developing for nearly sixty
years, and it has to find new forms every few years as the older forms
are exposed. The mediums have become expert conjurers and even, in some
cases, expert chemists--or they have expert chemists in collusion with
them--and it is simply foolish for an ordinary person to think that he
can judge if there has been fraud. We must have at least one elementary
safeguard. No part of the apparatus employed must belong to the medium
or be manipulated by him; and the photograph must not be taken on his
premises. Every Spiritualist who approves a photograph taken under other
conditions is courting deception and encouraging fraud.

And instead of finding even the leading Spiritualists setting an example
of caution in face of the recognized mass of fraud in their movement, we
find them exhibiting a bewildering hastiness and lack of critical
faculty. Most readers will remember how Sir A. C. Doyle sent to the
_Daily Mail_ on December 16, 1919, a photograph of a picture of Christ
which had, he said, been "done in a few hours by a lady who has no power
of artistic expression when in her normal condition." The picture was,
he said, "a masterpiece"; so wonderful, in fact, that "a great painter
in Paris" (not named, of course) "fell instantly upon his knees" before
such a painting. It was "a supreme example" of a Spiritualist miracle.
The sequel is pretty well known. On December 31 the artist's husband
wrote a letter to the _Daily Mail_, of which I need quote only one

     Mrs. Spencer wishes definitely to state once and for all that her
     pictures are painted in a perfectly normal manner, that she is
     disgusted at having "psychic power" attributed to her, and that she
     does not cherish any ludicrous and mawkish sentiments about helping
     humanity by her paintings.


[11] I might add that Mrs. Gladstone is not at all recognized by her own
son in Mr. Wynne's photograph. The other figure seems to me certainly a
reproduction of a photograph or bad picture of Gladstone.



Spiritualism began in 1848 with the humble and entirely fraudulent
phenomena of raps. Within three years there were hundreds of mediums in
the United States, and a dollar per sitter was the customary fee for
assisting at one of the services of the new religion. It soon became
widely known that raps could be produced by very earthly means, and in
any case the rivalry of mediums was bound to develop new "phenomena." As
in all other professions, originality paid; and as the wonderful
discovery was quickly made that darkness favoured the intensity and
variety of the phenomena, the spirit power began to break upon humanity
in a bewildering variety of forms. In this chapter we will examine a
number of these accomplishments which our departed fellows have learned
on the Elysian fields.

D. D. Home is still the classical exponent of some of these
accomplishments. Indeed, there is one of his phenomena which no medium
of our time has the courage to reproduce, and, since this phenomenon is
expressly endorsed by Sir William Barrett in his recent work, _On the
Threshold of the Unseen_ (1917), we shall be accused of timidity and
unfairness if we omit to consider it. It is said that on several
well-authenticated occasions--so Sir W. Barrett assures the public--Home
took burning coals in his hands, thrust his hands into the blazing fire,
or even put his face among the live coals. What is the evidence which
Sir W. Barrett, knowing that the general public has no leisure to
investigate these things, endorses as satisfactory?

The reader who has patience enough to consider these extraordinary
claims in detail will find the evidence collected and examined in Mr.
Podmore's _Newer Spiritualism_ (chapters i and ii). It is just as weak
and unsatisfactory as the evidence for Home's levitations, which we have
already examined. The first witness is a lady, Mrs. Hall, who had the
advantage of a profound belief that Home could do anything whatever, and
that the idea of fraud was worse than preposterous in connection with so
holy a man. Home's demure expression and constant utterances of piety
and virtue, which seem to Mr. Podmore "inconceivably nauseous," made a
deep impression on Mrs. Hall and the other ladies whom Home used
generally to have next to him when he was performing his wonders. Now,
this lady tells us that on July 5, 1869, he took a large live coal from
the fire, put it on her husband's head, and drew his white hair over it.
He left it there for four or five minutes, and then gave it to Mrs. Hall
to hold. She says that it was "still red in parts," but she was not

It would follow that Home was so charged with supernatural power that he
could communicate a large measure of it to Mr. Hall's head or Mrs.
Hall's hands--a feat unique in the history of Spiritualism. We need not
go so far. There is nothing in Mrs. Hall's narrative to prevent us from
supposing that Home put some non-conducting substance on her husband's
head _before_ he put the coal on it. Any person can pick a live coal out
of the fire if a part of it (as is common) is _not_ alive. Some can go
further. I can stick my finger-tips in my live pipe without being
burned. Some smokers can pick up a small live coal and light their pipes
with it. Probably all the coals which Daniel picked from the fire were
"dead" in parts. It is clear that this particular coal was not glowing,
as Mrs. Hall states that her husband's white hair showed "silvery"
against it. If the coal had glowed, the hair would show _black_ against
it. Probably Home lifted up the hair round, and not on, it; and after
five minutes part of it would be cool enough to lay on Mrs. Hall's hand.

Sir William Crookes is the next witness: a great scientist, but--we
cannot forget it--the man who was easily duped by a girl of seventeen.
He says that he accompanied Home to the fire, and saw him put his hands
in it. That is anything but the scientific way to give evidence. We want
an exact description of the state of the fire, the light, etc. But
notice this next sentence: "He very deliberately pulled the lumps of hot
coal off, one at a time, with his right hand, and touched _one_ which
was bright red." So the "lumps" among which he had put his hands were
_not_ bright red; and we are left free to suppose that the _one_ which
he touched was not bright red all over. Home then took out a
handkerchief, waved it about in the air, and folded it on his hand. He
next took out a coal which was "red in one part" and laid it on the
handkerchief without burning it. The story smacks of charlatanry from
beginning to end. Crookes ought at least to have known better than to
suppose that a handkerchief "gathered power" by being waved about. It
more probably gathered a piece of asbestos from Home's pocket.

The other pretty stories of Home's fire-tricks may be read in Podmore.
Juggling with fire is an ancient practice. It is very common among
savages. Daniel Home, with his select and private audience, had
excellent conditions for doing it. In bad light he did even more
wonderful things than those I have quoted; that is to say, if we take
the record literally, which we may decline to do. Crookes, like some
other investigating professors, was short-sighted. No wonder that Daniel
loved him.

Let us pass on to the musical accomplishments of the spirits; and here
again the gifted Daniel was one of the pioneer mediums. He induced the
spirits to play an accordion while he held it with one hand; and his
hand held it by the end farthest removed from the keys. Unfortunately,
the spirits laid down the condition that he must hold it out of sight,
underneath the table, and our interest is damped. We know something from
other mediums of the ways of doing this. While you are putting the
accordion under the table you change your hand from the back end to the
key end of the accordion. Then you can get the bellows to play by
pushing it against something or using a hook at the end of a strong
thread or catgut. It is well to remember that Home was a good musician.
Possibly he played a mouth-organ while the professor was looking
intently at the accordion.

But Home was put to a severe test, we are told. Sir W. Crookes made a
cage (like a waste-paper basket) to go under the table, and Home was
told to let the accordion hang in this. He could certainly not now use
his second hand or his feet, yet it "played." But, as Mr. Podmore, most
ingenious of critics, points out, no one saw the _keys_ move. The music
may have come from a musical box in Home's pocket, or placed by him on
the floor. The degree of light or darkness is not stated. The opening
and shutting of the accordion could be done by hooks, or loops of black
silk. So with the crowning miracle, when Home withdrew his hand, and the
accordion was seen suspended in the air, moving about in the cage (under
the dark table). It was probably hooked on to the table.

Before we pass on to other ghostly musicians, let us notice another feat
of Home's which Sir William Crookes records here. He placed a board with
one end on the table and the other on a spring balance. It was so shaped
(with feet at each end) that an enormous pressure would have to be
exerted on it at the table-end if the balance were to be appreciably
altered. Yet a light touch of Home's fingers caused the scale to
register six pounds. Podmore points out that this experiment had been
gradually reached. Home knew the conditions, and had made his
preparations. The light was poor, and a loop of strong silk thread at
the far end of the board, pulled from some part of his person, would not
be noticed. We shall see far more remarkable feats than this.

A pretty variation of musical mediumship was next introduced by Mrs.
Annie Eva Fay, another American fraud with whom Sir W. Crookes made
solemn scientific experiments. Florrie Cook was a chicken in comparison
with Annie Fay, and she triumphantly passed all the professor's tests.
She came to London in 1874, and everybody soon went to see and hear the
"fascinating American blonde" at the Hanover Square Rooms.

Mrs. Fay's most characteristic séance was when she sat in the middle of
a circle of sitters, a bell and a guitar beside her. Her husband,
"Colonel" Fay, was in the circle, but, as they held each other's hands,
it was presumed that he could do nothing to help her if he wished. Mrs.
Fay then began to clap her hands. The lights were extinguished, and,
although Mrs. Fay continued to clap her hands loudly, so that you could
be sure she was not using them, the bell was rung, the tambourine
played, the sitters' beards were pulled, and so on. This was easy. When
the gas was put out, Mrs. Fay no longer slapped her left hand against
her right, but against her forehead or cheek--perhaps slapped the
Colonel's face for a variation--and had the right hand free for
business. No doubt the Colonel also released a hand, as we have seen
Eusapia Palladino do, and joined the band.

When this trick was realized, Mrs. Fay used to allow herself to be bound
with tapes to a stake erected on the stage. A few minutes after the
lights were put out the band began its ghostly, but not very impressive,
music. Sometimes a pail was put beside her, and it was raised by
invisible hands (in the dark) on to her head. When the light was
restored Mrs. Fay was discovered still bound to the stake, the knots and
seals intact. By an accident at one of her performances Mr. Podmore was
enabled to see how she did it, and the secret has long been known. The
tapes supplied had to be fastened in such a way that she could with
great speed slip them up her slender arms and get into a working
position. Maskelyne also exposed her, and trade fell off so badly that
she made him an offer, by letter, to go on his stage and, for payment,
show how all the tricks were done. She had by that time converted
hundreds to Spiritualism.

There were various other forms of the musical performance. One medium
used to sit in sight of the audience with a sitter holding his hands. A
cloth was then put over them both, from the neck downward, the lights
extinguished, and the usual band began. He had released one hand, by the
familiar trick, and reached behind him for the instruments.

The medium, Bastian, also played instruments in the dark. At Arnheim,
where he was edifying the Dutch Spiritualists, he was suspected, and it
was arranged to ignite some inflammable cotton by an electric current
from the next room. The next time a ghostly hand played the guitar above
the heads of the sitters, the signal was given, and the flash lit the
room. The guitar fell hastily to the table, and Bastian's hand retreated
rapidly to its right place. His English Spiritualist admirers accepted
his explanation that it was a "materialized" hand that was seen
shrinking back into his body. One medium strummed his guitar with a long
pencil which he took with his teeth out of his inner coat-pocket and
held with his teeth. Others had telescopic rods or "lazy tongs" hidden
about them, and used these in the dark.

The binding of mediums with cords or tapes is a "precaution against
fraud" which was thoroughly exposed fifty years ago. Many of Sir A. C.
Doyle's own admirers were pained when he announced to the world his
belief in the genuineness of the performance of two Welsh colliers, the
Thomas brothers. Their "manifestations" were prehistoric. More than
fifty years ago spectators were invited to tie up the mediums, and as
long ago as 1883 Mr. Maskelyne was exhibiting the trick. The Davenport
brothers, the latest American marvels, had toured England. Most people
will remember how they were held up at Liverpool by some one tying the
rope in knots with which they were not familiar. The spirits failed
entirely to play the tambourine when the tying-up was properly done, and
the instrument was put out of reach of the medium's mouth. As usual, it
had been said for months that fraud was "absolutely excluded."

Later mediums found the solution of this difficulty. The medium kept a
sharp knife-blade within reach of his teeth, and, when knots proved too
stubborn, he cut the rope and freed himself. He had a spare rope in his
clothes and fastened himself--or was bound by a confederate--before the
lights went up. People thought that they could prevent this by sealing
the knots. It was useless. The medium had chewing gum of the same colour
as sealing-wax, and the seals were imitated with this. These desperate
shifts are, however, rarely necessary. While he is being tied the medium
catches a loop of the rope with his thumb, and this gives him plenty of
slack to use. I have seen a medium laced tight into a leather arm-case,
and get out behind the curtain in three minutes. He had caught a loop of
the lace with his thumb, and the rest was tooth work.

It was therefore little wonder that when the Thomas brothers were
brought from the valleys of South Wales to London their ancient miracles
would not work. A recent convert to Spiritualism, Mr. S. A. Moseley,
describes their work on their native heath (or hearth) with the same awe
and simplicity as Sir A. C. Doyle had done. Many of us knew the history
of Spiritualism, and smiled. They were brought to London by the _Daily
Express_ in 1919, and here, where sceptics abounded and the need of
convincing evidence was at its most acute, "White Eagle" (the Red Indian
spirit who controls Will Thomas) and all his band of merry men were
powerless. Will Thomas was properly bound, the tambourine and castanets
were put out of reach, and his brother was isolated. All that
happened--the throwing of a badge-button and a pair of braces to the
audience--is within the range of possibilities of the human mouth.

Let us now turn to another bright and classical page in the history of
Spiritualism: the experiments of Professor Zöllner with the medium
Slade. Sir A. C. Doyle granted in the Debate, with an air of generosity,
that Slade "cheated occasionally," but he insisted that Slade's
phenomena in the house of Professor Zöllner were genuine. Now, as long
as Sir A. C. Doyle does this kind of thing, as long as he assures his
readers that he will not build on any medium who has been convicted of
fraud and then builds on such a medium, as long as he tells his readers
(who will not check the facts) that a medium who was exposed over and
over again merely "cheated occasionally," it is no use for him to assert
that he is trying to purge Spiritualism of fraud. Slade was a cynical
impostor from beginning to end of his career.

I will show in the next chapter but one how Slade confessed his
habitual fraud as early as 1872, how he was exposed and arrested in
London in 1876, and how he was exposed again in Canada in 1882 and in
the United States in 1884. A word about the last occasion will suffice
for my purpose here. Henry Seybert, a Spiritualist, left a large sum of
money to the University of Pennsylvania on the condition that the
University authorities would appoint a commission to examine into (among
other things) the claims of Spiritualism. They did; and it was the most
unlucky inspiration the ghosts of the dead ever conveyed. Very few
mediums would face the professors, and those who did were shown to be
all frauds. Slade was one of these, and the Pennsylvania professors,
wondering how any trained man could be taken in by so palpable a fraud,
sent a representative to Leipsic to investigate the experiences of
Professor Zöllner and the three other German professors who had endorsed
Slade. The gist of his report was that of the four professors one
(Zöllner) was in an early stage of insanity (he died shortly
afterwards), one (Fechner) was nearly blind, the third (Weber) was
seventy-four years old, and the fourth (Scheibner) was very
short-sighted, yet did _not_ (as Sir A. C. Doyle says) entirely endorse
the phenomena!

I have not been able to discover evidence that Zöllner's mind was really
deranged, but he certainly approached the inquiry with a theory of a
fourth dimension of space, and was most eager to get his theory
confirmed by the experiments. The key to the whole situation is,
therefore, lack of sharp control. Slade had been conjuring for years,
and was an expert in substitution. He had a purblind audience, and he
astutely guided the professor until the conditions of the experiment
suited him. He knew beforehand, as a rule, what apparatus Zöllner would
use, and he duplicated his wooden rings, thongs, etc. An excellent study
of his tricks in detail will be found in Carrington's _Physical
Phenomena of Spiritualism_. Sir A. C. Doyle speaks of the shattering of
a screen in Slade's presence as an indisputably superhuman feat. But
before the séance no one had thought of looking to see if the screen had
been taken to pieces and lightly tied together by a black thread which
Slade could pull asunder at will!

Slade was a very bad selection by Sir A. C. Doyle. No prominent medium
was ever so frequently exposed as he. In addition to the exposures I
have mentioned, Dr. Hyslop, Mrs. Sidgwick, and other leading
Spiritualists riddled his pretensions to supernormal power. In the end
he took to drink and died in an asylum. Yet Sir A. C. Doyle assures his
followers, in his _Vital Message_, that he never builds on a discredited

Let us turn now to Stainton Moses, the snow-white medium. Moses was a
neuropathic clergyman who in 1872 left the Church and became a teacher.
About the same time he discovered mediumistic powers. He died ultimately
of Bright's disease, brought on by drink. His audience, as I said
before, consisted only of a few intimate friends who never doubted his
saintliness or thought for a moment of fraud. He worked always in the
dark, or in a very bad light; and his doings are mainly described by his
trustful friend and host, Mrs. Speer. This would dispense any serious
student from troubling about his phenomena; but let us see if they throw
any light on his character. Mr. Carrington says that the things
reported are unbelievable, yet that we cannot think of fraud in
connection with Moses. Podmore also tries hard not to accuse him of
_conscious_ fraud, and hints that he was irresponsible. The reader may
choose to think otherwise.

The spirits performed every variety of phenomena through Stainton Moses.
Like Home, and only a few of the quite holiest mediums, he was
occasionally lifted off the ground; or, which is, of course, the same
thing, he said that he was. Raps were common when he was about.
Automatic writing of the most elevating (and most inaccurate)
description flowed from his pencil. Lights floated about the room; and
once or twice he dropped and broke a bottle of phosphorus in the dark.
Musical sounds were repeatedly heard, as in the case of the Rev. Dr.
Monck, who had a little musical box in his trousers. The sitters were
sprayed with scent. The objects on the dressing-table in his room were
arranged by invisible hands in the form of a cross. Wonderful messages
about recently deceased persons were sent through him; and the details
could later be found in the papers. In fine, he was a remarkably good
medium for "apports"--that is to say, the bringing into the circle by
the spirits of flowers and other objects. Statuettes, jewels, books, and
all kinds of things (provided they were in the house and could be
secreted about the person) were "apported."

The evidence for these things is particularly poor, but I am a liberal
man. I do not doubt them. Each one of them, separately, was done by
other mediums. It is the rich variety that characterizes Moses. Let him
sleep in peace. The credulity and admiration of his friends seem to have
made him lose the last particle of sense of honour in these matters.
These things are common elementary conjuring from beginning to end.

Apports are a familiar ghostly accomplishment, and the way they are done
is familiar. Mme. Blavatsky was wonderful at apports. Who would ever
dream of proposing to search Mme. Blavatsky? And who would now be so
simple as to think of spirits when the medium was not searched? The
person of Mme. Blavatsky was as sacred from such search as the person of
the Rev. Stainton Moses or of the charming and guileless Florrie Cook.
Indeed, it is only in recent times that a real search of the medium has
been demanded, and the accounts of weird and wonderful objects
"apported" under other conditions merit only a smile. Mrs. Guppy,
secured from search by her virtue and the esteem of Dr. Russel Wallace,
went so far as to apport live eels. Eusapia Palladino one day "apported"
a branch of azaleas in Flammarion's house; and he afterwards found an
azalea plant, which it exactly fitted, in her bedroom. Another day her
spirits showered marguerites on the table; and the marguerites were
missed from a pot in the corridor. Anna Rothe, the Princess Karadja's
pet medium, was secretly watched, and was caught bringing bouquets from
her petticoats and oranges out of her ample bosom; and the spirits did
not save her from a year in gaol. She had a whole flower-shop under her
skirts when she was seized.

But we will not run over the whole silly chronicle of "apports." Two
recent instances will suffice. One is the Turin lady, Linda Gazerra, of
whom I have spoken on an earlier page. She was too virtuous to strip,
and let down her hair, even in the presence of a lady. So Dr. Imoda, a
scientific man who consented to accept her on these terms, was fooled
for three years (1908-11). She had live birds caged in the large mass of
her hair (natural and artificial), and all sorts of things in her

About the same time, an Australian medium, Bailey, made a sensational
name throughout the Spiritualist world by his "apports." The spirits
brought silks from the Indies (until the brutal customs official claimed
the tariff), live birds, and all sorts of things. He was taken so
seriously in the Spiritualist world that Professor Reichel, a rich
French inquirer, brought him to France for investigation. Sure enough,
although he was searched, the spirits brought into the room two little
birds "from India." But his long hesitations and evasions had aroused
suspicion, and on inquiry it was proved that he had bought the birds,
which were quite French, at a local shop in Grenoble. How had he
smuggled them into the room? I give the answer (as it is given by Count
Rochas, his host) with reluctance, but it is absolutely necessary to
know these things if you want to understand some of the more difficult
mediumistic performances. The birds were concealed in the unpleasant end
of his alimentary canal. Professor Reichel gave him his return fare and
urged him to go quickly; and the Australian Spiritualists received him
with open arms, and listened sympathetically to his stories of French

Of "apports," therefore, we say the same as of "materializations." The
medium shall be stripped naked, have all his or her body-openings
muzzled, be sewn in prepared garments, and placed in a prepared and
carefully searched room. When Spiritualists announce the appearance of
an eel or a pigeon or a bouquet, or even a copy of _Light_, under those
conditions, we will begin to consider the question of apports.

Luminous phenomena "are easily simulated," says Dr. Maxwell. Most people
will agree to this candid verdict of so experienced and so sympathetic
an investigator. Tons of phosphorus have been used in the service of
religion since 1848. It has taken the place of incense. The saintly
Moses twice had a nasty mess with his bottle of phosphorus. Herne was
one night tracing a pious message in luminous characters (with a damp
match) when there was a crackle and flash; the match had "struck." The
movement abounds in incidents which are, in a double sense, "luminous."

Certain sulphides may be used instead of phosphorus, and in modern times
electricity is an excellent means of producing lights at a distance.
Chemicals of the pyrotechnic sort are also useful. One must remember
that behind the thousands of mediums, whose fertile brains are
constantly elaborating new methods of evading control, are manufacturers
and scientific experts who supply them with chemicals and apparatus. One
often hears Spiritualists laugh at this suggestion as a wild theory of
their opponents. Any impartial person will acknowledge that it is more
probable than improbable. But positive proof has been given over and
over again.

Quite recently Mr. Sidney Hamilton described in _Pearson's Weekly_
(February 28, 1920) an "illustrated printed catalogue of forty pages"
which he had with great difficulty secured. It was the secret catalogue
of a firm which supplies apparatus to mediums. The outfit includes "a
self-playing guitar," a telescopic aluminium trumpet (for direct voice),
magic tables, luminous objects, and even "a fully materialized female
form (with face that convinces) ... floats about the room and disappears
... Price £10." For eight shillings this firm supplies the secret how to
turn one's vest inside out, without changing coat, while one is bound,
and the knots sealed, in the cabinet. For two pounds ten you get an
apparatus which will levitate a table so effectively that "two or three
persons cannot hold the table down." In short, there is, and has been
for decades, a trade supply of apparatus and instructions for producing
the whole range of "physical phenomena," and any person who pays serious
attention to such things is not very particular whether he is deceived
or not.

I may close the chapter with a case of spirit sculpture, which is
recorded by Truesdell in his _Bottom Facts of Spiritualism_. By this
trick, he says, Mrs. Mary Hardy converted one of those professors whose
names adorn the Spiritualist list. A pail of warm water, with several
inches of paraffin floating on its surface, was weighed and put under
the table. After a time a hand moulded most accurately in wax was found
on the floor beside the pail, and it was found that the weight of the
contents of the pail had decreased by precisely the weight of the hand.
A convincing test, surely! But the professor had forgotten to allow for
the evaporation of the warm water. The hand had been made in advance, by
moulding the soft paraffin on the medium's hand, and hidden under Mrs.
Hardy's skirt. It was transferred by her toes to the floor under the



Spiritualists distinguish between physical phenomena and psychic
phenomena. The use of this distinction is obvious. When a man reads some
such history of the movement as Podmore's, and then the works of
Truesdell, Robinson, Maskelyne, Carrington, and others who have time
after time exposed the ways of mediums, he is very ill-disposed to
listen to stories of materialization, levitation, spirit photographs,
spirit messages, spirit music, spirit voices, or anything of the kind.
He knows that each single trick has been exposed over and over again. So
the liberal Spiritualist urges him to leave out "physical" phenomena and
concentrate on the "psychic." It is a word with an aroma of refinement,
spirituality, even intellect. It indicates the sort of thing that
respectable spirits _ought_ to do. So we will turn to the psychic
phenomenon of clairvoyance.

Here at once the reader's resolution to approach the subject gravely is
disturbed by the recollection of a recent event. Many a reader would,
quite apart from the question of consolation, like to find something
true in Spiritualism. He may feel, as Professor William James did, that
the mass of fraud is so appalling that, for the credit of humanity, we
should like to think that it is the citizens of another world, not of
ours, who are responsible. He may feel that, if it is all fraud, a
number of quite distinguished people occupy a very painful position in
modern times. He would like to find at least something serious;
something that is reasonably capable of a Spiritualist interpretation.
But as soon as he approaches any class of phenomena some startling
instance of fraud rises in his memory and tries to prejudice him. In
this case it is the "Masked Medium."

A recent case in the law courts has brought this to mind. In 1919, when
the _Sunday Express_ was making its grave search for ghosts, in order to
rebuke the materialism of our age, it offered £500 for a
materialization. A gentleman, who (with an eye on the police) genially
waived the money offer aside, offered to bring an unknown lady and
present a materialization, and some startling feats of clairvoyance in
addition. A sitting was arranged, and the lady, who wore a mask, gave a
clairvoyant demonstration that could not be surpassed in all the annals
of Spiritualism. Her ghost was rather a failure; though Lady Glenconnor,
who has the true Spiritualist temperament, recognized in it an "initial
stage of materialization." But the clairvoyance was great. The sitters,
while the lady was still out of the room, put various objects connected
with the dead (a ring, a stud, a sealed letter, etc.) in a bag. The bag
was closed, and was put inside a box; and the lady, who was then
introduced, described every object with marvellous accuracy. Sir A. C.
Doyle said that the medium gave "a clear proof of clairvoyance." Mr. Gow
said that he saw "no normal explanation."

And it was fraud from beginning to end, as everybody now knows.
Clairvoyance must be distinguished from prophecy, which Spiritualists
sometimes claim. Prediction means the art of seeing things which do not
exist, and it is therefore not even mentioned in this book. Clairvoyance
means the art of seeing things through a brick wall (or any other opaque
covering). Now this was an admirable piece of clairvoyance. Even
Spiritualists present were suspicious, because the lady was quite
unknown. Yet they could not see any suggestion of fraud or any "normal
explanation." Did they turn back upon their earlier experiences of
clairvoyance, when the fraud was confessed, and ask if those also may
not have been due to trickery? Not in the least. Everything is genuine
until it is found out--and, sometimes, even afterwards.

Mr. Selbit, the conjurer who really conducted the performance, is
naturally unwilling to give away his secret. He acknowledged immediately
after the performance, as Mr. Moseley describes in his _Amazing Séance_,
that he had fooled the audience. The masked lady was an actress with no
more abnormal power than Sir Oliver Lodge has. Mr. Stuart Cumberland
suggested at the time that, when the assistant went to the door to call
the medium, he handed the box to a confederate and received a dummy box.
He thought that the medium would then have time to study and memorize
the contents of the real box (including a sealed letter in dog-German)
before she entered the room. From the account, which is not precise
enough, I can hardly see how she would have time for this. But Mr.
Selbit acknowledged that a dummy box _was_ substituted. He says that a
person entered the room in the dark, took the box from the table and
substituted a dummy, and afterwards impersonated the ghost. This is
most important for us. The room had been searched, and such acute
observers as Mr. Stuart Cumberland and Superintendent Thomas, of
Scotland Yard, were on the watch; yet a confederate got into the room.
After this an ordinary Spiritualist séance is child's play. A long and
minute description of the objects in the bag, which must have been
spelled letter by letter in parts, on account of the difficult wording
of the sealed letter, was in some way telegraphed or communicated to the
girl under the eyes of this watchful group. It would be scarcely more
marvellous to suppose that Mr. Selbit, after studying the contents of
the box, took her place before their faces and they never knew it!

The reader will not fail to see why I have minutely pointed out the
features of this recent case. It is, in the first place, an example of
"psychic," not "physical," phenomena; and it was conjuring pure and
simple. It was, further, "most successful and convincing," as Sir A. C.
Doyle pronounced; yet there was not a particle of abnormal power about
it. Finally, it was done in the presence of three keen critics, as well
as of leading Spiritualists; yet the fraud was not discovered. To invoke
the "supernormal," after this, the moment some ordinary individual fails
to detect fraud, is surely ludicrous.

Now let me put another warning before the reader. It is notorious that
Spiritualists are particularly, even if innocently, apt to mislead in
their accounts of their experiences. Unless the experience is recorded
on paper at once, it is almost worthless; and even then it is often
quite wrong. There is such a thing as "selection" in the human mind.
When two people, a Spiritualist and a sceptic, see or read the same
thing, their minds may get quite a different impression of it. The mind
of the Spiritualist leaps to the features of it which seem to be
supernormal, and slurs or ignores or soon forgets the others. The mind
of the sceptic does the opposite. You thus get quite inaccurate accounts
from Spiritualists, though they are often quite innocent. One once asked
me to explain how a medium, two hundred miles from his home, in a place
where no one knew him, could tell his name and a good deal about him. By
two minutes' cross-examination I got him to admit that he had been
working for some weeks in this district and was known to a few
fellow-workers. No doubt one of these had given a medium information
about him, and then induced him to visit her. These indirect methods are
very effective.

A very good example is Sir A. C. Doyle himself. In the debate with me he
made statement after statement of the most inaccurate description. He
said that Eusapia Palladino was quite honest in the first fifteen years
of her mediumship; that he had given me the names of forty Spiritualist
professors; that the Fox sisters were at first honest; that I did not
give the evidence from his books correctly; that Mr. Lethem got certain
detailed information the first time he consulted a medium; that in Mme.
Bisson's book you can see ectoplasm pouring from the medium's "nose,
eyes, ears, and skin"; that Florrie Cook "never took one penny of
money"; that in the Belfast experiment the table rose to the ceiling;
and so on. His frame of mind was extraordinary. But I will give a far
more extraordinary case which will make the reader very cautious about
Spiritualist testimony.

About forty years ago, when the old type of ghost story was not yet
quite dead, Myers and Gurney, who were collecting anecdotes of this
sort, received a particularly authentic specimen. It was a personal
experience of Sir Edmund Hornby, a retired Judge from Shanghai. A few
years earlier, he said, he had one night written out his judgment for
the following day, but the reporter failed to call for a copy. He went
to bed, and some time after one o'clock he was awakened by the reporter,
who very solemnly asked him for the copy. With much grumbling Sir Edmund
got up and gave him the copy. He remembered that in returning to bed he
had awakened Lady Hornby. And the next morning, on going to court, he
learned that the reporter had died just at that hour, of heart disease
(as the inquest afterwards found), and had never left the house. He had
been visited by the reporter's spirit.

Here was an experience of most exceptional weight. Who could doubt
either the word or the competence of the Chief Judge of the Supreme
Consular Court of China and Japan? The story was promptly written up in
the _Nineteenth Century_ ("Visible Apparitions," July, 1884), and
sceptics were confounded. But a copy of the _Nineteenth Century_ reached
Shanghai, where the incident was said to have taken place, and in the
same monthly for November there appeared a letter from Mr. Balfour,
editor of the _North China Herald_ and the _Supreme Court and Consular
Gazette_. It proved, and Sir E. Hornby was compelled to admit, that the
story was entirely untrue. It was a jumble of inaccuracies. The reporter
had died between eight and nine in the morning, not at one, and had
slept peacefully all night. There had been no inquest. There was no
judgment whatever delivered by Sir E. Hornby that morning. There was
not even a Lady Hornby in existence at the time! Sir Edmund Hornby
sullenly acknowledged the truth of all this, and could mutter only that
he could not understand his own mistake.

After this awful example we think twice before we take the testimony of
Spiritualists at its face value. Sir A. C. Doyle, in particular, is
especially guilty of such confusions, to the great advantage of his
stories. During the Debate, as I said, he told of a wonderful Glasgow
clairvoyante, who was consulted by a Mr. Lethem (a Glasgow J.P.), who
had lost a son in the War. She at once told Mr. Lethem, Sir Arthur says,
his son's name, the name of the London station at which he had said
farewell, and the name of the London hotel at which they had stayed.
This sounded very impressive indeed. But I happened to have read Mr.
Lethem's articles (_Weekly Record_, February 21 and 28, 1920), and I
have them before me. Mr. Lethem was a well-known man in Glasgow, and was
known to be "inquiring." Now it was _eight months_ after his son's death
that he met this clairvoyante, yet all she could tell him was his son's
name and appearance. It was, he confesses, "not much" and "not strictly
evidential." It was at a _later_ sitting that she gave the other
details. Sir A. C. Doyle has fused the two sittings together and made
the experience more impressive. The medium had time to make inquiries.
There is a further detail which Sir A. C. Doyle does not tell. The
brother of the dead officer asked, as a test question, the name of the
town where they had last dined together. It took "more than a year" to
get an answer to this!

Thus a quite commonplace and easily explained feat of a medium is
dressed up by Sir A. C. Doyle as supernormal. He does this repeatedly in
his books. In the _New Revelation_ he says, quoting Sir Oliver Lodge's
Raymond, that a medium described to Sir Oliver a photograph of his son,
"no copy of which had reached England, and which proved to be exactly as
_he_ described it." Here he has done the same as in the case of Mr.
Lethem--fused together several successive sittings. The first medium
consulted by Sir Oliver Lodge made only a very brief statement. It was
wrong in three out of four particulars; and the fourth was a very safe
guess (that Raymond had once been photographed in a group). The
particulars which so much impressed Sir O. Lodge were given much later,
and by a lady medium; and by that time there were plenty of copies of
the photograph in England! Sir O. Lodge gives the various dates.

Sir William Barrett and Sir O. Lodge are just as slipshod. I have amply
shown this in the case of Lodge in my _Religion of Sir O. Lodge_ (and
_Raymond_ is even worse than the books I analysed), and Sir W. F.
Barrett's _On the Threshold of the Unseen_ is just as bad. I have
previously said how he tells his readers that it would take "the
cleverest conjurer with elaborate apparatus" to do what the Golighers do
at Belfast; and I showed that one limb of one member of the circle of
seven mediums would, with the help of a finger or two perhaps, explain
everything. Sir William also says (p. 53) that the London Dialectical
Society "published the report of a special committee" strongly in favour
of Spiritualism. On the contrary, the London Dialectical Society
expressly refused to publish that egregious document. He says (p. 72),
in describing the Home levitation case, that "nothing was said
beforehand of what they might expect to see," and "the accounts given by
each [witness] are alike." These statements are the reverse of the
truth. The book contains many such instances.

Here is another, which is expressly concerned with the greatest of all
"clairvoyantes," Mrs. Piper, and the most critical Spiritualist of
modern times, Dr. Hodgson. In the Debate Sir A. C. Doyle introduces him
(p. 21) as "Professor Hodgson, the greatest detective who ever put his
mind to this subject." He is fond of turning the people he quotes into
"professors." It makes them more weighty. Hodgson was never a professor,
but he was an able man, and he exposed more than one fraud like Eusapia
Palladino. But I have been permitted to see a letter which puts Dr.
Hodgson himself in the category of over-zealous and unreliable
witnesses; and as this letter is to be published in the form of a
preface to the second edition of Dr. C. Mercier's book on Spiritualism,
I am not quoting an anonymous document.

Mrs. Piper, the great American clairvoyante, the medium whose
performances are endorsed as genuine even by men who regard Spiritualism
as ninety-eight per cent. fraud, began her career as a "psychic" in
1874. At first she was controlled, in the common Spiritualist way, by
"an Indian girl." Then the great spirits of Bach and Longfellow and
other illustrious dead began to control her. Next a deceased French
doctor, "Phinuit," took her in hand, and she did wonderful things. But
when people who were really critical began to test Phinuit's knowledge
of medicine, and inquire (for the purpose of verification) about
Phinuit's former address on earth, he hedged and shuffled, and then
retired into obscurity, like the Indian girl and Longfellow. Her next
spirit was "Pelham," a young man who modestly desired to remain
anonymous. For four years "George Pelham," a highly cultivated spirit,
gave "marvellously accurate" messages through Mrs. Piper, and the world
was assured that there was not the slightest doubt about his identity.
He was a very cultivated young American who had "passed over" in 1892.

Mr. Podmore, who, in spite of his high critical faculty, was taken in by
this episode, thinks that telepathy alone can explain the wonderful
things done. He does not believe in ghosts. Mrs. Piper's "subconscious
self," he thinks, creates and impersonates these spirit beings, and
draws the information telepathically from the sitters. But he says that
the impersonation was so "dramatically true to life," so "consistently
and dramatically sustained," that "some of G. P.'s most intimate friends
were convinced that they were actually in communication with the
deceased G. P."[12] It is true that when the dead G. P. was asked about
a society he had helped to form in his youth he could give neither its
aim nor its name, and Podmore admits that Mrs. Piper hedged very badly
in trying to cover up her failure. But on other occasions the hits were
so good that we have, if we do not admit the ghost theory, to take
refuge in telepathy and the subconscious self.

There is no need even for this thin shade of mysticism. Podmore was
misled by Hodgson's account. "G. P." meant, as everybody knew, George
Pellew. Now a cousin of Pellew's wrote to Mr. Clodd to tell him that, if
he cared to ask the family, he would learn that all the relatives of the
dead man regarded Mrs. Piper's impersonation of him as "beneath
contempt." Mr. Clodd wrote to Professor Pellew, George's brother, and
found that this was the case. The family had been pestered for fifteen
years with reports of the proceedings and requests to authenticate them
and join the S. P. R. They said that they knew George, and they could
not believe that, when freed from the burden of the flesh, he would talk
such "utter drivel and inanity." As to "intimate friends," one of these
was Professor Fiske, who had been described by Dr. Hodgson as
"absolutely convinced" of the identity of "G. P." When Professor Pellew
told Professor Fiske of this, he replied, roundly, that it was "a lie."
Mrs. Piper had, he said, been "silent or entirely wrong" on all his test

I am, you see, not choosing "weak spots," as Sir A. C. Doyle said, and
am not quite so ignorant of psychic matters, in comparison with himself,
as he represented (_Debate_, p. 51). I am taking the greatest
"clairvoyante" in the history of the movement, and in precisely those
respects in which she was endorsed by Dr. Hodgson and the American S. P.
R. and Sir O. Lodge and all the leading English Spiritualists. She
failed at every crucial test. Phinuit, who knew so much, could not give
a plausible account of his own life on earth, or how he came to forget
medicine. When Sir O. Lodge presented to Mrs. Piper a sealed envelope
containing a number of letters of the alphabet, she could not read one
of them, and declined to try again. She could not answer simple tests
about Pellew. She gave Professor James messages from Gurney after his
death (1888), and James pronounced them "tiresome twaddle." When Myers
died in 1901 and left a sealed envelope containing a message, she could
not get a word of it. When Hodgson died in 1905 and left a large amount
of manuscript in cipher, she could not get the least clue to it. When
friends put test questions to the spirit of Hodgson about his early life
in Australia, the answers were all wrong.

Mrs. Piper fished habitually and obviously for information from her
sitters. She got at names by childishly repeating them with different
letters (a very common trick of mediums), and often changed them. She
made the ghost of Sir Walter Scott talk the most arrant nonsense about
the sun and planets. She was completely baffled when a message was given
to her in Latin, though she was supposed to be speaking in the name of
the spirit of the learned Myers, and it took her three months to get the
meaning (out of a dictionary?) of one or two easy words of it. She gave
a man a long account of an uncle whom he had never had; and it turned
out that this information was in the _Encyclopædia_, and related to
another man of the same name. In no instance did she ever give details
that it was _impossible_ for her to learn in a normal way, and it is for
her admirers to prove that she did _not_ learn them in a normal way,
and, on the other hand, to give a more plausible explanation of what
Dr. Maxwell, their great authority, calls her "inaccuracies and

The truth is that the phenomenon known as "clairvoyance" rests just as
plainly on trickery as the physical phenomena we have studied.
Margaretta Fox explained decades ago how they used to watch minutely the
faces of sitters and find their way by changes of expression. "I see a
young man," says the medium dreamily, with half-closed but _very_
watchful eyes. There is no response on the face of the sitter. "I see
the form of a young woman--a child," the medium goes on. At the right
shot the sitter's face lights up with joy and eagerness, and the fishing
goes on. Probably in the end, or after a time, the sitter will tell
people how the clairvoyant saw the form of her darling child "at once."

In some cases the medium is prepared in advance. Carrington tells us
that he was one day strongly urged to give a man, who thought that he
had abnormal powers, a sitting. He decided at least to give him a
lesson, and made an appointment. The man came with friends at the
appointed hour, and they were astonished and awed when Carrington, as a
clairvoyant, told them their names and other details. He had simply sent
a man to track his visitor to his hotel and learn all about him and his
friends. Other cases are just as easy. When Sir O. Lodge and Sir A. C.
Doyle lost their sons, the whole mediumistic world knew it and was
ready. But mediums gather information about far less important sitters,
because it is precisely these cases that are most impressive. It is
quite easy to get information quietly about a certain man's dead
relatives, and then find an intermediary who will casually recommend him
to see Mrs. ----. I do not suggest that the intermediary knows the
plot, though that may often be the case.

In other cases the medium tells very little at the first visit. The
"spirit" is dazed in its new surroundings. It takes time to get adjusted
and learn how to talk through a medium. And so on. You go again, and the
details increase. You have, of course, left your name and address in
making a fresh appointment. Some clever people go anonymously. Lady
Lodge went thus and heard remarkable things; but Sir O. Lodge admits
that her companion greatly helped the medium by forgetting herself and
addressing her as "Lady Lodge." You may leave your coat in the hall, and
it is searched. When Truesdell consulted Slade in New York, he wickedly
left in his overcoat pocket a letter which gave the impression that his
name was "Samuel Johnson." The first ghost that turned up was, of
course, "Mary Johnson."

Still more ingenious was the "clairvoyance" of the famous American
medium Foster, one of the impostors who duped Robert Dale Owen and for
years held a high position in the movement. While he was out of the room
you wrote on bits of paper the names of your dead relatives or friends,
and you then screwed up the bits of paper into pellets. Foster then came
in, and sat near you. He dreamily took the pellets in his hand, pressed
them against his forehead, and then let them fall again upon the table.
Slowly and gradually, as he puffed at his everlasting cigar, the spirits
communicated all the names to him.

Such tricks can be fathomed only by an expert, and they ought to warn
Spiritualists of the folly of thinking that "fraud was excluded."
Truesdell, the great medium hunter, the terror of the American
Spiritualist world in the seventies, had a sitting with Foster and paid
the usual five dollars. He was puzzled, and consented to come again. On
the second occasion Foster could tell him, clairvoyantly, the name of
his hotel and other details. He had had Truesdell watched in the usual
way. At last the detective got his clue. Foster's cigar was continually
going out, and in constantly re-lighting it he sheltered the match in
the hollow of his hands. Truesdell concluded that he was then reading
the slips of paper, and the rest was easy. In pressing the pellets to
his forehead Foster substituted blank pellets for them and kept the
written papers in his hand. So the next time Truesdell went, and Foster
had touched one of the six pellets and read it, Truesdell snatched up
the other five pellets and found them blank. Foster genially
acknowledged that it was conjuring, but he continued as a priest of the
Spiritualist movement for a long time afterwards.

Another clairvoyant feat is to read the contents of a sealed envelope,
provided the contents are not a folded letter. We shall see in the next
chapter how the contents of a folded and sealed letter are learned. I
speak here of the simple clairvoyant practice of taking a sealed
envelope which contains only a strip of written paper, pressing it to
the forehead and reading the contents. You need not pay half-a-guinea to
a Bond Street clairvoyante for this. Sponge your envelope with alcohol
(which will soon evaporate and leave no trace) and you can "see through

Some readers may expect me to say a word here about "clairaudience." The
only word I feel disposed to say is that it is one of the worst pieces
of nonsense in the movement. Clairvoyance means to read the contents of
a sealed letter, or to see spirits which ordinary mortals cannot see. It
is half the stock-in-trade of the ordinary medium. You pay your guinea
or half-guinea, and the gifted lady sees your invisible dead friends and
describes them. Sometimes she is quite accurate, "on information
received." Generally the performance is a tedious medley of guesses and
grotesque inaccuracies. As is known, Mr. Labouchere quite safely
promised a thousand-pound note to any clairvoyante who would see the
number of it through a sealed envelope. The French Academy of Science
had invited clairvoyants, and thoroughly discredited the claim, years

Yet the imposture goes on daily, all over England and America, and some
now offer the novelty of "clairaudience," or hearing spirit voices which
we ordinary mortals cannot hear. It is the same fraud under another
name. When some clairaudient comes along who can hear the spirits of
Myers, and so many other deceased Spiritualists answer the crucial
questions they have never yet answered, we may become interested. Until
then a new addition to this world of cranks, frauds, decadents, and
nervous invalids is not a matter of much importance.


[12] _The Newer Spiritualism_, p. 180.

[13] Mr. Clodd, as will be read in the preface to the second edition of
Dr. Mercier's book, sent a copy of this letter to _Light_. The editor
declined to publish it. So Sir A. C. Doyle may justly plead that he knew
nothing about it. Will he ask why?



Clairvoyance, strictly speaking, is supposed to be an abnormal power of
the medium: a range of vision, a fineness of sense, that we less gifted
beings do not possess. But the performance is very apt to resolve itself
into a claim that the medium sees invisible spirits and is communicating
with them. Of real clairvoyance--of a power to read a closed book or a
folded paper or see a distant spot--no instance has ever yet been
recorded that will pass scrutiny. Many scientific men, as I said, who do
not believe in spirits do believe in the abnormal powers of mediums.
They would like to get a proof of clairvoyance, but they are unable to
offer us one. The wonderful stories told of the gift in Spiritualist
circles vanish, like the stories about Home and Moses, the moment the
critical lamp is turned upon them.

We are therefore reduced to the Spiritualist claim that a medium really
receives information from spirits, and we have to see on what sort of
evidence this is based. Now there is an aspect of this question which
even the leading Spiritualists do not face very candidly. More than
twenty years ago it was felt, and rightly felt, by Spiritualists that at
least a long step forward would be made if they left sealed or
cipher-messages at death, and communicated the contents or the key of
these from "beyond." It is well known how Myers left with Sir Oliver
Lodge a sealed message of this description. A month after his death he
"got into touch" with Lodge through the medium Mrs. Thompson. Unhappily
he had forgotten all about the message, and even about the Society for
Psychical Research! Next the supremely gifted Mrs. Verrall got into
touch with Myers. By this time--it was the end of 1904--Myers had had
time to get adjusted, and was talking more or less rationally through
Mrs. Verrall. If there had not been a very material test in reserve, Sir
O. Lodge and his friends would have sworn that the messages were from
the spirit of Myers. As it was, they were so confident that on December
13, 1904, they solemnly opened the precious envelope. They were struck
dumb when there was not the least correspondence between Mrs. Verrall's
message from Myers and the message he had left in the envelope.

Miss Dallas tries, in her _Mors Janua Vitæ_, to soften the blow, but her
pleas are useless. The final failure utterly stultifies all the days and
months of supposed messages. And this is not the only case. Hodgson had
adopted a similar test, and it was a ghastly failure. Other
Spiritualists left sealed messages when they died, and not a syllable of
one of them has been read. Our Spiritualists _do not_ get into
communication with the dead. This is negative evidence, but it is far
more impressive than any of the rhetorical and inaccurate accounts of
experiences which they give us. It is precise and unmistakable. Every
Spiritualist who dies now knows that this is the supremely desired test,
yet we have twenty years of complete, unmitigated failure. Men like Sir
O. Lodge tell us that they recognize the personality of Hodgson beyond
mistake in the messages they get through mediums; but the one sure
test, the getting of the key to the cipher-messages which Hodgson left
behind, is an absolute failure. It would become our Spiritualists to
strike a more modest note, and not assure the ignorant public, as Sir A.
C. Doyle does, that the time for proof has gone by and it is for their
opponents now to justify themselves. The experience of the last twenty
years has been deadly to Spiritualist pretensions.

The truth is that here again Spiritualists had been led into their
belief, that messages from the spirit-world were easy and common, by a
vast amount of mediumistic trickery. The earliest method was by raps,
and we have seen that since 1848 this performance has been a matter of
trickery. The next way was to rap out messages with a leg of the table,
which was merely a variation of the table-lifting we have studied. These
forms are so often used by amateur mediums that it is necessary to
recall our warning that the distinction between paid and unpaid mediums
is not of the least use. Carrington, Maxwell, Podmore, and Flammarion
give numbers of instances of cheating by men and women of good social
position. Carrington tells of an American lawyer who deliberately--not
as a joke--made his friends believe that he could make a poker stand
upright and do similar abnormal phenomena. He did his tricks by means of
black threads. Podmore gives a similar case in England. Flammarion tells
us of a Parisian doctor's wife who cheated flagrantly in order to get
credit for abnormal powers. This sort of prestige has as much
fascination for some people as money has for others.

The professional mediums, however, early developed in America the trick
of receiving messages from spirits on slates, and this is fraud from
beginning to end. The supreme artist in this field was Henry Slade, whom
Sir A. C. Doyle regards as a genuine intermediary between the lofty
spirits of the other world and ourselves. As Truesdell's account of the
way in which he unmasked Slade as early as 1872 contains one of the
richest stories in the whole collection of Spiritualist anecdotes, one
would have thought that a story-teller like Sir A. C. Doyle could not
possibly have forgotten it. From it we learn that Slade was from the
outset of his career an adroit and brazen and confessed impostor.

Truesdell paid the customary five dollars, and received pretty and
edifying, but inconclusive, messages from the spirits. Incidentally he
detected that the spirit-touches on his arms were done by Slade's foot,
to distract his attention; but he could not see the method of the
slate-trick. However, as the main theme of the messages was an
exhortation to persevere in his inquiries (at five dollars a sitting to
the medium), he made another appointment. It was on this occasion that
he left a misleading letter in his overcoat in Slade's hall, and found
the spirits assuming that he was "Samuel Johnson, Rome, N.Y." But before
Slade entered the room, or while Slade was going through his
overcoat-pockets, _he_ rapidly overhauled Slade's room. He found a slate
with a pious message from the spirits already written on it, signed (as
was usual) by the spirit of Slade's dead wife, Alcinda. Beneath the
message Truesdell wrote "Henry, look out for this fellow--he is up to
snuff! Alcinda," and replaced the slate. Slade came in, and gave a most
dramatic performance. In his contortions, under the spirit-influence,
he drew the table near to the hidden slate, and "accidentally" knocked
the clean slate off the table. Of course, he picked up the _prepared_
slate. His emotions can be imagined when he read the words which
Truesdell had written on it. After a little bluster, however, he
laughingly acknowledged that he was a mere conjurer, and he told
Truesdell many tricks of his profession.[14]

This was in 1872. Four years later Slade came to London, where Sir E.
Ray Lankester and Sir Bryan Donkin again exposed him. Sir E. Ray
Lankester snatched the slate before the message was supposed to be
written on it, and the message was already there. He prosecuted Slade,
who was sentenced to three months' hard labour. He had charged a guinea
a sitter. But a few words had been omitted from the antiquated form of
the charge (which I have previously given in the case of Craddock), and
before Slade could be again prosecuted he fled to the continent. There,
we saw, he duped a group of purblind professors, and he returned to
America in higher repute than ever. In 1882 an inspector of police at
Belleville, in Canada, snatched the slate just as Sir E. Ray Lankester
had done, and exposed him again. He escaped arrest only by a maudlin
appeal for mercy; and on his return to the States he succeeded in
persuading the Spiritualists--who solemnly stated this in their organ,
the _Banner of Light_--that the man exposed at Belleville was an
impostor making use of his name! In 1884 he faced the Seybert Committee,
and its sharp-eyed members saw and exposed every step in his trickery.
Eventually, as I have said, he lived in drink and misery, developed
Bright's disease, and died in the common asylum. Such was the man whom
Sir A. C. Doyle seriously regards as the chosen instrument of his
spiritual powers.

The Seybert Committee found two different kinds of writing on Slade's
slates. Some messages were short and badly written, and they concluded
that these were written by him with one finger while he held the slate
under the table (as the custom was) to receive a spirit-message. Other
messages were relatively long, well written, and dignified; and they
regarded these as prepared in advance. Both points were fully verified.
At one sitting they noticed two slates resting suspiciously against the
leg of the table. These doubtless had messages written on them, and were
to be substituted for the blank slate when this was supposed to be put
under the table. Slade would then produce the sound of the spirits
writing by scraping with his nail on the edge of the slate. On this
occasion, however, Slade saw that they had their eyes on the slates and
he dare not use them. But one of the members of the committee,
determined to do his work thoroughly, carelessly knocked the two slates
over with his foot, and the messages were exposed.

The reception of messages from the spirits on slates may linger in rural
or suburban districts, but it has lent itself to such trickery, and been
exposed so thoroughly, that mediums have generally abandoned it. For
whole decades it was the chief way of communicating with the spirits,
and weird and wonderful were the artifices by which the medium defeated
the growing sense of caution of the sitters. In spite of the exposures
of Slade, the English medium Eglinton adopted and improved his methods,
and he was one of the bright stars of the Spiritualist world for twenty
years. He was detected in fraud as early as 1876. At that time he gave
materialization-séances, at which the ghostly form of "Abdullah"
appeared. Archdeacon Colley found the beard and draperies of Abdullah in
his trunk. But exposure never ruins a medium in the Spiritualist world,
and ten years later Eglinton was the most successful and respected
medium in England, especially for slate-messages.

Hodgson more than suspected him, and he at last found a man, Mr. S. J.
Davey, who was able to reproduce all his tricks. He wrote messages while
he held the slates under the table, and he substituted prepared slates
for clean slates under the noses of his sitters. Perhaps the most
valuable part of his experience was this substitution, which is one of
the fundamental elements of mediumistic trickery. Spiritualists--indeed,
inquirers generally--honestly flatter themselves that they have taken
care that there was no deception of this kind. Such confidence is
foolish, as the professional conjurer does this kind of substitution
under our eyes habitually, and we never see him do it. In order to make
people more cautious Davey, with Dr. Hodgson's connivance, set up as a
medium and gave sittings to Spiritualists. They afterwards sent accounts
of their experiences to the Society for Psychical Research. They were,
as usual, certain that there was no trickery, and that the messages were
genuine. Davey then wrote correct accounts of what he had done, and it
was seen that the accounts of the sitters were inaccurate and their
observation faulty. Some of them indignantly retorted that Davey was a
genuine medium, but found it more profitable to pose as a conjurer and
exposer of mediums!

In a work specially devoted to this subject (_Spirit Slate Writing and
Kindred Phenomena_, 1899) Mr. W. E. Robinson gives about thirty
different fraudulent ways of getting spirit-messages. Indeed, many of
these may be sub-divided, and you get scores of methods. One method, for
instance, is to write a message with invisible fluid on paper, seal the
apparently blank paper in an envelope, and then let the message appear
and pretend that the spirits wrote it. Mr. Robinson gives thirty-seven
different recipes for the "invisible ink," and sixteen of these require
only heat, which is easily applied, to develop them. In other cases the
inside of the envelope has been moistened with a chemical solution which
develops the hidden writing. One medium used to put an apparently blank
sheet of paper in a clear bottle and seal it. Here trickery seemed
impossible, and the sitter was greatly impressed at receiving a pious
message on the paper. But the message had been written in advance with a
weak solution of copper sulphate, and the bottle had been washed out
with ammonia, which develops it.

In slate-messages much use is made of a false flap, or a loose sheet of
slate which fits imperceptibly on one side of the framed slate. It
conceals the message written on the slate, and is removed under the
table or under cover of a newspaper. A sheet of slate-coloured silk or
cloth is sometimes fitted on the slate, and it is drawn up the medium's
sleeve or rolled into the frame of the slate. Invisible messages may be
written on the slate with onion or lemon juice, and developed by lightly
passing over them a cloth containing powdered chalk. Double-frame slates
lend themselves to infinite trickery. Slates are provided by "the trade"
with false hinges and all kinds of mechanism. But even when the sitter
brings his own slates, as Zöllner did, and ties them up and seals them,
the medium is not baffled. They are laid aside, for the spirits to write
on at their leisure. At the first convenient opportunity the medium
removes the wax, without spoiling the seal, by passing a heated
knife-blade or fine wire beneath it, and, after untying the strings,
heats the under-surface of the wax and sticks it on again.

Mediums found that sitters were greatly impressed if they heard the
sound of the spirits writing on the slate. This was easily done by
scraping with the finger nail, and cautious people wanted to have a
security against fraud. One medium gave them adequate security. He held
both hands above the table, yet writing was distinctly heard underneath
it. The man had attached to the table a clamp holding a bit of
slate-pencil, and against this he rubbed a pencil which was fastened to
his trousers by loops of black silk. Others can use a pencil with their
toes--I have seen an armless Bulgar girl use a pen with her toes as
neatly as a good writer uses his fingers--and hold both hands above the

This trick is often used when a message is wanted in answer to a
question and cannot be written in advance. The usual method is, however,
to hold the slate under the table-top and write on it while it is held
there. At first this was done by means of a tiny bit of slate-pencil
slipped under the nail of the big finger. Slade soon found that this
was suspected, and he made a point of keeping his nails short. The trade
which is at the back of mediums then supplied thimbles with bits of
pencil attached, which the medium could slip on to his finger as he put
the slate under the table. Even thimbles with three differently coloured
chalks were made, and the innocent sitter would be invited to select his
own colour for the spirits to write in. The most amazing tricks were
developed. Robinson tells of a man who would let you bring your own
slate and hold it against your own breast, and the message then appeared
on it. He "tried" your slate when you brought it by writing on it with
his pencil. But, of course, he sponged out all his writing before he
handed the slate back to you, as you could see. He had a double
pencil--slate at one end and silver nitrate at the other--and what he
wrote with the latter was invisible until it was damped with salt-water.
Well, the sponging (or damping) had been done with salt-water, and so
the message (in silver nitrate) appeared as the slate dried against your

When you thus allow the medium to use his own apparatus in his own room
you need not be surprised at any result whatever. The sensible man will
remember that behind the mediums is the same ingenious industry which
supplies conjuring outfits. Mr. Selbit showed Mr. Moseley a typewriter,
on an ordinary-looking table, which spelt out, by invisible fingers, a
message in reply to your question. There was an electrical mechanism in
the table, and an electrician in the next room controlling it by a wire
through the hollow table-leg. But even without such elaborate mechanism
mediums can baffle quite vigilant sitters. There was one who would
allow you to examine his nails, yet he got slate-messages without
putting the slate under the table. He had ground slate-pencil to dust,
mixed it with gum, and then cut the mixture into little cubes or
pellets. He simply stuck these on his trousers, and, _after_ you had
examined his nails, helped himself to one.

When the answers are given on paper a hundred other tricks are employed.
First the medium must learn the question you are putting to the spirits.
If you put it mentally, you will never get more than a lucky or unlucky
guess, unless you happen to be one of those sitters for whom the medium
was prepared. You need not fear telepathy. It must be admitted to-day
that the evidence for telepathy or thought-transference is in as parlous
a condition as the evidence for Spiritualism. After all the challenges
and discussions not a single serious claim lies before us. Sir A. C.
Doyle, it is true, tells (_Debate_, p. 28) quite confidently of Mr.
Lethem getting an answer to his unspoken questions. But Sir Arthur, as
usual, does not tell all the facts. The unspoken questions to which Mrs.
Lethem, as a medium, gave "correct answers" were precisely the two test
questions which Mr. Lethem had put to a medium some time before! We may
surely presume that he had confided that wonderful experience to the
wife of his bosom.

No, there is no clear case of telepathy, or answers to unspoken
questions, on record. The medium gets you to write your questions.
Spirits are supposed to be more at home in reading such spiritual things
as thoughts than in reading material scribbles; but your medium is not a
spirit, and you will get no answer unless he knows the question. If you
write your question on the pad which he kindly offers, it is easy.
There is a carbon paper underneath, which gives him a duplicate. In one
very elaborate case the carbon and duplicate were under the cloth, and
were drawn off, when you had finished writing, through a hollow leg of
the table into the next room. One medium developed the art of reading
what you wrote from the movements of the top of your pencil. Others,
like Foster, artfully stole your bit of paper and substituted dummies.
But I will quote from Mr. Carrington a last trick which will give the
reader a sufficiently large idea of the wonderful ingenuity which
mediums use in these spirit messages.

He tells in his _Personal Experiences of Spiritualism_ of a pair of
Chicago mediums--the same Misses Bangs who painted spirit pictures
before your eyes, as I have previously described--whose method was
extraordinarily difficult to detect. You wrote a letter to a deceased
person. You folded a blank sheet with this letter, and sealed them
yourself in an envelope. This letter you handed to Miss Bangs as she sat
at the table opposite you. After a long delay, but without her leaving
the room, she restored the envelope (which had lain on the table under a
blotter) to you intact, and you found a letter to you from your spirit
friend written on the blank sheet you had enclosed.

Mr. Carrington admits that he can only guess the way in which this
striking performance was done, but the reader who cares to read his full
and interesting account will feel that his conjecture is right. The
letter did not remain on the table. Under cover of the blotting pad and
various nervous movements it was conveyed to the medium's lap, and from
there to a shallow tray on the floor under the table. The medium, he
noticed, sat close to a door which led into an adjoining room, and he
believes that the tray was pulled by a string from under the table into
the next room. An expert whom he afterwards sent to examine the house,
under cover of a sitting, verified his conjecture that there was space
enough at the bottom of the door to pull a shallow tray through. In the
next room it was easy for Miss Bangs No. 2 to open the letter, write the
reply, and seal the envelope again. Even wax seals offer no difficulty
to mediums. The letter was re-conducted to the table in the same furtive
way. A desperate Spiritualist may say that his hypothesis is simpler
than this. But there is one little difficulty. No such person had ever
existed as the supposed dead relative to whom Mr. Carrington addressed
his letter! He had hoaxed the hoaxer.

Here were two quiet and inoffensive-looking spinsters earning a good
living by deceptive practices (this and the spirit-painting trick) which
they had themselves, apparently, originated, and which taxed the
ingenuity of an expert conjurer to discover. What chance has the
ordinary inquirer, much less the eager Spiritualist, against guile of
this description? A boy of sixteen can buy a box of conjuring apparatus
for a guinea. It contains only tricks which have been scattered over the
country for years. Yet in your own drawing-room he can, after a little
practice, cheat your eyes every time, although you know that there is
trickery, and are keenly on the look-out for it. What chance have you,
then, against a man or woman who has been conjuring for twenty years?
What chance have you in a poor light? What earthly chance have you in
the dark? It is amazing how inquirers and Spiritualists forget this
elementary truism. They tell you repeatedly, with the air of supreme
experts in conjuring, that "there was no possibility of fraud." That is
sheer self-deception. Even expert conjurers have been completely
deceived by mediums, as Bellachini was with Slade (a confessed impostor)
and Carrington was with Eusapia Palladino. The man who tells you that
there was no fraud because he saw none is as foolish as the man who
expects _you_ either to explain where the fraud was or else embrace

There is one other method of receiving messages which we must briefly
notice. It is, to Spiritualists, the most impressive of all. The ghost
of the dead _talks directly to you_. A "direct voice" medium is, of
course, required, and some kind of trumpet is provided by the medium
through which the spirit speaks to you. If you are known to the medium,
or if you have a good imagination and are very eager, you can recognize
the very accents of your dead wife or mother-in-law. But there is one
disadvantage of this impressive phenomenon. It must take place in
complete darkness; and we remember the warning of that high and
experienced psychic authority, Dr. Maxwell, that the man who seeks any
kind of phenomena in complete darkness is wasting his time.

Spiritualist writers are amusing when they try to reconcile us to the
conditions which their mediums have imposed on them. Are there not
certain conditions for the appearance of all scientific phenomena, they
ask us? Most assuredly. You cannot grow carrots without soil, and so on.
Is not darkness a condition of certain scientific processes? Again,
most certainly. The photographic plate must be prepared in the dark, or
in a dull red light. Therefore.... That is just where the Spiritualist
fails. If the darkness under cover of which the photographic chemist
prepares his plates lent itself equally to cover fraud or to protect his
operations, there would be a parallel. As it is, there is no parallel.

The red light of the photographer can serve only one purpose. When the
medium uses it, there are two purposes conceivable. One is, on the
Spiritualist theory, that white light may interfere with the
"magnetism," or the "psychic force," or whatever the latest jargon is.
The other conceivable purpose is that it may cover fraud. Everybody
admits that the darkening of the planet since 1848 has covered "a vast
amount of fraud," to use the words of Baron Schrenck. Few people admit
that it has favoured real phenomena. It is therefore quite absurd to
attempt to reconcile us to the darkness by the analogy of photographic
operations. There is no analogy at all. In the one case the poor light
certainly favours fraud, and does not certainly do anything else. In the
other case the red light never covers fraud, but has a single clear

Red light, as I have said, is the most tiring for the eye of all kinds
of light. The man who thinks that he can control the hands and feet of
seven mediums in such a light cannot expect to be taken seriously. He
can expect only to be taken in. But the man who pays any attention to
phenomena for which the medium requires pitch darkness is even worse.
Why not simply _imagine_ that the dead still live, and save the guinea?
You have not the slightest guarantee of the genuineness of the
phenomena. Imagining that you can recognize the voice or the features
is one of the oldest of illusions.

In the summer of 1912 our Spiritualists were elated by the discovery of
a new medium of the most powerful type. Mrs. Ebba Wriedt came from that
perennial breeding-ground of great mediums, the United States, where she
had long been known. In 1912 she illumined London. Through her W. T.
Stead was able once more to address Spiritualists _viva voce_. One
recognized the familiar voice unmistakably. Scepticism was ludicrous.
Did not a Serbian diplomatist talk to the spirit in Serb, which Mrs.
Wriedt did not know, and answer for the genuineness of the phenomena?
_Light_ had wonderful columns on Mrs. Wriedt's marvels. She was, the
editor of a psychic journal said, "the pride and the most convincing
argument of the whole Spiritualist and Theosophical world." In admiring
her powers, even the mutual hostility of Spiritualist and Theosophist
was laid aside, it seems.

Norwegian Spiritualists were eager to avail themselves of this rare
gift, and they asked if Norwegian spirits could speak through the great
medium. After consulting the spirits--a cynic would say, after
practising a word or two of Norwegian--Mrs. Wriedt replied in the
affirmative, and boldly crossed the sea.

There is, of course, no intrinsic reason, on the Spiritualist theory,
why spirits should be confined to the language of the medium. In "direct
voice" they do not even have to use her vocal organs. A trumpet lies on
the ground or the table, and the spirits lift it up and megaphone (very
softly) through it. It is quite inexplicable to those of us who are mere
inquirers why the spirits must always talk English in England, American
in America, and so on. Even when they try, as in the case of the Thomas
brothers, to talk their native American to us in England, the result is
half bad American and half Welsh-English. It would be much more
impressive to our hesitating generation if a half-dozen foreigners were
brought to the sitting, and each had a real conversation--not a word or
two--with a ghost of his own nationality. Somehow the spirits insist on
speaking the language, and even the dialect, of the medium. We shall
consider in the next chapter a few supposed variations from this
unfortunate rule of spirit-intercourse.

Well, Mrs. Wriedt went to Norway, and confronted her new inquirers with
all the solidity and confidence of the well-built American matron.
Somehow, the vocabulary of the Norwegian dead, who came along, was very
limited. They could say only "Yes" or "No" in Norwegian. Otherwise the
first séance was very good. To make up for their culpable ignorance of
their native tongue the Norwegian ghosts scattered flowers about the
dark room, gave ghostly music, and did other marvellous things. But
there were two ladies and a professor--Frau Nielsen and Frau Anker and
Professor Birkeland--who did not like this "Yes" and "No" business. It
was scriptural, but not ladylike. So the professor held Mrs. Wriedt's
hands very firmly at the second séance, and for twenty minutes the
spirits were dumb. They always resent such things, as every Spiritualist
knows. The trumpets lay on the floor, neglected and silent.

At length Professor Birkeland heard some very faint explosive sounds
which his ears located in the trumpets or horns (in shape something like
the old coach-horn). He looked steadily and saw them move slightly, a
phosphorescent light in them making the movements clear. A good
Spiritualist would have seen that this was the beginning of
manifestations, and he would have paid close attention to the trumpets
and relaxed his hard control of Mrs. Wriedt. The professor was, however,
of the type which mediums call "brutal." He jumped up, switched on the
electric light, and, before the Spiritualists could interfere, had
snatched the two trumpets from the floor and bolted to the nearest
analytic chemist. So the curtain fell on one more glorious act in the
Spiritualist drama. Mrs. Wriedt had put in the trumpet particles of
metallic potassium which, meeting the moisture she had also thoughtfully
provided, explained the "psychic movements." Close examination disclosed
that on other occasions she had used Lycopodium seeds to produce the
same effect.

Professor Birkeland did not discover how the voices were produced, but
they offer no difficulty. The trumpets were, he found, telescopic. Each
consisted of three parts, and could stretch to nearly three feet. When
some guileless lady, who is controlling the medium, allows a hand to
stray in the usual way, the trumpet is seized, and it will give a
"direct voice" over the heads of the sitters or close to any one of
them. When the trumpet remains on the ground during the ghostly message,
the medium has a rubber speaking-tube fitted to it. When no trumpet is
provided at all, it makes no difference. The medium has thoughtfully
brought one of these telescopic aluminium tubes in his trousers. It
folds up to less than a foot. In some of the earlier cases, possibly
still in some cases, the medium's little daughter, who sits demure and
mildly interested on the couch before the light is switched off, mounts
the furniture in the dark, and obligingly impersonates the ghost.

No one would accuse Mr. Crawford, of Belfast, of being ultra-critical,
yet his experience confirms my conclusions. His marvellous experiences
with the pious Kathleen drew the attention of the Spiritualist world,
and all sorts of mediums came to help. First he tried the clairvoyants.
But they saw such weird and contradictory things that he was worried.
None of them saw the wonderful "psychic cantilever" which he thought the
spirits made to lift the table, but they all saw ghostly hands where he
did not want them; and the worst of it was that the same spirits which
had confirmed his theory of a cantilever, and even allowed him to take a
photograph (which he has meanly refused to publish) of it, now joyously
confirmed the quite different theory of the Spiritualist clairvoyants.

So he gave it up, and next tried a "direct voice" medium. He is fairly
polite about the result. He got plenty of voices from all quarters--in
total darkness. Not only did a voice come from the ceiling, but a mark
was made on it. The medium's silk coat was frivolously taken off her by
the ghosts, and flung on the lap of one of the sitters. Strangely, these
things do not impress him as much as the raising of a two-pound stool to
a height of four feet does. He drops dark hints that things were said
about this "direct voice" medium. She was a big woman, and she was not
searched; and telescopic aluminium tubes take up little room. Mr.
Crawford put his little electrical register near her feet, and she was
"annoyed and nervous." In short, Mr. Crawford seems to have formed the
same opinion as any sensible person would in the circumstances.[15]

We have still to examine the claims of the automatic writers; but, after
all this, the reader will not expect much. Never yet was a message
received which could not have been learned by the medium in a normal
way. The overwhelming mass of the messages which are delivered daily in
every country are fraudulent. In an amusing recent work (_The Road to
En-Dor_) two officers have shown us how easy it was to dupe even
educated men by these professions of marvellous powers. The advantage is
on the side of the conjurer every time, and the sitter has little
chance. Let the mediums come before a competent tribunal. All sorts of
inducements have been offered to them to do so, but they are very shy of
competent investigators. In 1911 an advertisement in the _Times_ offered
£1,000 to any medium who would merely give proof of possessing
telepathic power, and there was not a single offer. This year Mr. Joseph
Rinn, a former member of the American Society for Psychical Research and
a life-long inquirer, has deposited with that Society a sum of £1,000
for any evidence of communication with the dead under proper conditions.
There will again be no application. Mediums prefer a simpler and more
reverent audience, even if the fees be smaller. But those who consult
them under their own conditions, knowing that fraud has been practised
under those conditions from San Francisco to Petrograd ever since 1848,
must not talk to us about "evidence."


[14] The chapter should be read in Truesdell's racy book, which is now
unfortunately rare, _Bottom Facts Concerning the Science of
Spiritualism_ (1883), pp. 276-307.

[15] These experiments are recorded in his _Experiments in Psychical
Science_ (1919), pp. 134-35 and 170-89.



The Spiritualist--if any Spiritualist reader has persevered thus
far--will be surprised to hear that many Rationalists censure me because
I decline to admit that his movement is "all fraud." For heaven's sake,
he will exclaim, let us hear something about our honesty for a change!
Even the impartial outsider will possibly welcome such a change. How is
it possible, he will ask, that so many distinguished men have given
their names to the movement if it is all fraudulent?

Now let us have a word first on these supposed distinguished
Spiritualists. During the debate with me Sir A. C. Doyle produced a tiny
red book and told the audience that it contained "the names of 160
people of high distinction, many of them of great eminence, including
over forty professors" (p. 19). He said expressly that "these 160 people
... have announced themselves as Spiritualists" (p. 20). The book was
handed to me, and it will be understood that I could not very well read
it and attend to my opponent's speech, to which I had to reply. But I
saw at a glance several utterly destructive weaknesses. Several men were
described as "professor" who had no right to the title. Several men were
included who were certainly _not_ Spiritualists (Richet, Ochorowicz,
Schiaparelli, Flammarion, Maxwell, etc.). And in not one single case is
a precise reference given for the words which are attributed to these
men. My opponent regretted that chapter and verse were not "always"
(this word is omitted from the printed Debate) quoted in his little
book. As a matter of fact, "chapter and verse" (book and page) are
_never_ given, in any instance; and in the vast majority of the 160
cases not even words are quoted to justify the inclusion. He further
said that he quite admitted that some of the "forty professors" in the
book did not go so far as Spiritualists. But I have already quoted his
words to the effect that they had "announced themselves as
Spiritualists," and the same impression is undoubtedly conveyed by the
book itself, the title of which is _Who Are These Spiritualists?_

I have the book before me, and any reader who cares to glance at the
printed Debate and see what Sir A. C. Doyle said about it will be
astonished when I describe it. The printed text gives 126 names, and 32
further names (many illegible) are written on the margins in Sir A. C.
Doyle's hand. Only in 53 cases out of the 158 is any quotation given
from the person named, and in not _one_ of these cases are we told where
the quotation may be verified. There are 27 (not 49, as Sir Arthur said)
men described as "professors"; and of these several never were
professors, and very few ever were Spiritualists. Sir A. C. Doyle has
himself included Professor Morselli, who calls Spiritualism "childish
and immoral." There are men included who died before Spiritualism was
born, and there are twenty or thirty Agnostics included. Men like "Lord
Dunraven, Lord Adare, and Alexander Wilder" are described, with the most
amazing effrontery, as "some of the world's greatest authors." Padre
Secchi, the pious Roman Catholic, is included. Thackeray, Sir E. Arnold,
Professor de Morgan, Thiers, Lord Brougham, Forbes Winslow, Longfellow,
Ruskin, Abraham Lincoln, and other distinguished sceptics are dragged
in. For sloppy, slovenly, loose, and worthless work--and I have in
twenty years of controversy had to handle a good deal--this little book
would be hard to beat.

A list of distinguished Spiritualists could be accommodated on a single
page of this book. A list of distinguished Rationalists in the same
period (1848-1920) would take twenty pages. The truth is that in the
earlier days of Spiritualism, when less was known than we now know about
mediumistic fraud, a number of distinguished men were "converted." They
were in every case converted by the impostors I have exposed in the
course of this work--by Home, Florrie Cook, Mrs. Guppy, Eglinton, Slade,
Morse, Holmes, etc. What is the value of such conversions? Who are the
"distinguished" Spiritualists _to-day_? Sir A. C. Doyle, Sir O. Lodge,
Sir W. Barrett, Mr. Gerald Balfour.... The reader will be astonished to
know that those are the only names of living men of any distinction that
Sir A. C. Doyle dares to give, either in the text or on the margins of
his book. What their opinion is worth the reader may judge for himself.

Let us pass on. I wrote recently in the _Literary Guide_ that "there are
hundreds of honest mediums." Some of my readers resented this as
over-generous. Possibly they have only a vague idea of Spiritualism, and
it is advisable for us to reflect clearly on the point. In the eyes of
Spiritualists every man or woman, paid or unpaid, who is supposed to be
in any way in communication with spirits is a "medium." The word does
not simply apply to men and women who, for payment, sit in cabinets or
in a circle, and lift tables, play guitars, write on slates, produce
ghosts, pull furniture about, tug the beards of sitters, and so on. I
should agree with the reader that these people, paid or unpaid, and all
mediums who operate in the dark or in red light, are probably frauds.
That is a fair conclusion from the preceding chapters, in which I have
exposed every variety of their manifestations, and from the history of

This rules out all professional mediums and a large proportion of the
amateurs. Perhaps the reader does not know, and would like to know, what
a séance is like. As far as the "more powerful" (and more certainly
fraudulent) mediums are concerned, I have already given a sufficient
description. A cloth-covered frame or "cabinet" is raised at one end of
the room, or a curtain is drawn across an alcove or corner. In this the
medium generally (not always) sits, and the curtains are closed until
the medium thinks fit to have them opened. The medium is sometimes
hypnotized, and sometimes falls into a natural trance; it matters
little, for the trance is invariably a sham, and the medium is wide
awake all the time, though he simulates the appearance of a trance. The
lights are lowered or extinguished. Generally a red-glass lantern or
bulb (sometimes several) is lit. Then, after a time, which is occupied
by singing or music (to drown the noise of the medium's movements), the
ghost appears, or the tambourine is played, or the table is lifted, and
so on.

These are the heavier and more expensive performances, and are
constantly being exposed. The medium has apparatus in the false seat of
his chair or concealed about his person. But the common, daily séance is
quite different. You sit round a table or in a circle, or (if you will
rise to the price) sit alone with the lady. The light may be good. The
medium "sees" and describes spirit forms hovering about you. If you are
one of the people whom the medium has, through an intermediary,
attracted to the circle, you get some accurate details. If not, the
medium begins with generalities and, studying your expression, feels her
way to details. It is generally a waste of time. Friends of mine have
gone from one to another medium in London, and they tell me that it is
simply a tedious and most irritating way of convincing oneself that
these people are all frauds.

But beyond these are hundreds, or thousands, of private individuals who
discover that they are mediums. They take a pencil in their hands, fall
into a passive, dreamy state, and presently the pencil "automatically"
writes messages from the spirit world. Others use the planchette (a
pencil fixed in a heart-shaped board which, when the medium's fingers
are on it, writes on a sheet of paper) or the ouija board (in which the
apex of the heart spells out messages by pointing rapidly to the letters
of the alphabet painted on a larger board over which it travels). I have
studied all three forms, and may take them together as "automatic

The first question is whether this _can_ be done unconsciously. If such
messages are consciously spelt or written by the medium, it is, of
course, fraud, because the messages purport to come from the dead. My
own experience convinces me that even here there is a vast amount of
fraud. The social status and general character of the medium do not
seem to matter at all, as we have repeatedly seen. People get into the
attitude of the child. "I can do what you can't do," you constantly hear
the child say to its fellows. There is a good deal of the child in all
of us. Prestige, distinction, credit for a rare or original power, is as
much sought as money; and this motive grows stronger when the medium
already has money. Everybody knows, or ought to know, the perfectly
authentic story of Mozart's _Requiem_. A wealthy amateur, Count Walsegg,
secretly paid Mozart to compose that famous Mass, and it was to be
passed off by Walsegg as his own.

But while there is much fraud even in automatic writing, there are
certainly hundreds of mediums of this description who quite honestly
believe that they are spirit-controlled. Mr. G. B. Shaw's mother was an
automatic artist of that class. I have seen some of her spirit drawings.
A high-minded medical man of my acquaintance was a medium of the same
type. The class is very numerous. Psychologically, it is not very
difficult to understand. A pianist can play quite complicated pieces
unconsciously or subconsciously. A writer, who cannot normally write
decent fiction, may have wonderful flights of imagination in a dream. An
expert worker can do quite complicated things without attention.
Something of the same faculty seems to come in time to the automatic
writer or artist. Consciousness is more or less--never entirely,
perhaps--switched off from its usual connection with the hand, and the
part of the brain-machine which is not lit by consciousness takes over
the connection.

That this can be done in perfect honesty will be clear to every reader
of Flammarion's book, _Les forces naturelles inconnues_. Flammarion
never became a Spiritualist, but he was quite a fluent automatic writer
in his youth. Victorien Sardou, the great dramatist, belonged to the
same circle, and was an automatic draughtsman. Flammarion gives
specimens of the work of both. Quite without a deliberate intention, he
signed his automatic writing (on science) "Galileo."

I have no doubt that at the time both these distinguished men were
strongly tempted to embrace the Spiritualist theory. These experiences,
and the experiences of the séance, can be exceedingly impressive and
dramatic. The man who has never been there is too apt to think that all
Spiritualists are fools. I have been to séances, and I do not admit
that. I am quarrelling with Spiritualists because they will not realize
the possibilities and the actual abundance of fraud. But the séance is
undoubtedly very impressive at times. I have held a serious
conversation, in German and Latin, through an amateur medium of my own
acquaintance, with the supposed spirit of a certain German theologian of
the last century whose name (as given) was well known to me. I do not at
all wonder that many succumb in sittings of this sort. But I found
invariably that, if one resolutely kept one's head and devised crucial
tests, the claim broke down. So it is with Flammarion and Sardou. What
"Galileo" wrote in 1870 was just the astronomy of that time; and much of
it is totally wrong to-day. Sardou, on the other hand, drew remarkable
sketches of life on Jupiter; and we know to-day that Jupiter is red-hot!

This is a broad characteristic of automatic writing since it began in
the fifties of the nineteenth century. At its best it merely reflected
the culture of the time, which was often wrong. Stainton Moses, for
instance, wrote reams of edifying revelation. But I find among his
wonderful utterances about ancient history certain statements concerning
the early Hindus and Persians which recent discoveries have completely
falsified. He had been reading certain books which were just passable
(though already a little out of date) fifty years ago. Among other
things the spirits told him that Manu lived 3,000 B.C., and that there
was a high "Brahminical lore" long before that date! So with Andrew
Jackson Davis, the first of these marvellous bringers of wisdom from the
spirit world. He had probably read R. Chambers's _Vestiges of Creation_,
and he gave out weird and wonderful revelations about evolution. In the
beginning was a clam, which begot a tadpole, which begot a quadruped,
and so on. Davis certainly lied hard when he used to deny that he had
read the books to which his "revelations" were traced, but no one can
deny his originality.

Then there was Fowler, an American medical student and pious amateur
medium, who was regarded with reverence by the American Spiritualists. I
invite the reader's particular attention to this man, as he is one of
those unpaid individuals who are supposed (by Spiritualists) to have no
conceivable motive for cheating. Yet he lied and cheated in the most
original fashion. He told his friends that ghostly men entered his
bedroom at nights, produced ghostly pens and ink, and left messages in
Hebrew on his table. An expert in Hebrew found that the message was a
very bad copy of a passage from the Hebrew text of _Daniel_. This did
not affect the faith of Spiritualists, who put a piece of parchment in
Fowler's room for a further message. They had a rich reward. They found
next day a spiritual manifesto signed by no less than fifty-six spirits,
including some of the statesmen who had signed the Declaration of

The frauds were very gross in those early decades. Franklin, Washington,
even Thomas Paine, sent hundreds of messages from the "Summerland." As
time went on, Socrates, Plato, Sir I. Newton, Milton, Galileo,
Aristotle, and nearly everybody whose name was in an encyclopædia,
guided the automatic writers. When one reads the inane twaddle signed
with their names, one wonders that even simple people could be deceived.
Dante dictated a poem of three thousand lines in the richest provincial
American. One automatic writer wrote, under inspiration, a book of a
hundred thousand words. It is estimated that there were two thousand
writing mediums in the United States alone four years after the
foundation of the movement.

Mrs. Piper was chiefly an automatic writer in the latter part of her
famous career as a medium, but we need scarcely discuss further her
accomplishments. In her later years she said that she did not claim to
be controlled by spirits, and this is sometimes wrongly described as a
confession of fraud. What she directly meant was that she did not
profess any opinion as to the source of the knowledge she gave to
sitters. She seemed to favour the theory of telepathy. When, however, we
remember that she spoke constantly in the name of spirits (Longfellow,
Phinuit, Pelham, Myers, etc.), the plea seems curious. Those who believe
that she was really in a sort of trance-state, and knew not what she
was doing, may be disposed to accept Podmore's theory, that her
subconscious personality dramatized these various spirits or supposed
spirits. Some of us do not like this idea of trance. In the hundreds of
exact records of proceedings with mediums that I have read, I have not
seen a page that suggested a genuine "trance," but I have noted scores
and scores of passages which showed that the medium feigned to be in a
trance, but was very wide awake.

Mrs. Thompson is another clairvoyant and automatic writer who has been
much appreciated by modern Spiritualists. It is well to recall that
before 1898 she was a medium for "physical phenomena." She even brought
about materializations. Then she met Mr. Myers, and her powers assumed a
more refined form. Dr. Hodgson, that quaint mixture of blunt criticism
and occasional credulity, had six sittings with her, and roundly stated
that she was a fraud. The correct information which she gave him was, he
said, taken from letters to which she had access, or from works of
reference like _Who's Who_. In one case, which made a great impression,
she gave some remarkably abstruse and correct information. It was
afterwards found that the facts were stated in an old diary which had
belonged to her husband. She herself produced the diary, and said that
she had never read it; so, of course, everybody believed her. When
Professor Sidgwick died, in 1900, his "spirit" used to communicate
through her. She reproduced his manner, and even his writing (which she
said she had never seen), very fairly; but she could give no
communication from him of "evidential" value.

The impersonation of dead people by the "entranced" medium makes a
great impression on Spiritualists. It is difficult to understand why.
One medium quite convinced a friend of mine by such a performance. She
sat, in the circle, in a trance one day, when she suddenly rose from her
chair, stroked an imaginary moustache, and began to speak in a gruff
voice. "He"--the young lady had become a cavalry man--explained in a
dazed way that he had died at Knightsbridge Barracks on the previous
day, and gave his name. Great was the joy of the elect on finding
afterwards that a soldier of the name had died at Knightsbridge on the
previous day.

It was quite childish. It is just by learning such out-of-the-way facts,
as they easily can, and making use of them, that the mediums keep up
their reputations. There was no reason whatever why the medium should
not have learned of the death and made so profitable a use of it.
Stainton Moses often did such things. One day he was possessed by the
spirit of a cabman who said that he had been killed on the streets of
London that very afternoon. By an unusual oversight the spirit did not
give his name. It was afterwards found that the accident was reported in
an evening paper which Stainton Moses _might_ have seen just before the
séance; and, by a curious coincidence, the reporter had not given the
cabman's name. In other cases, where mediums had been invited to
districts with which they were not familiar, yet they gave quite
accurate details about local dead, it was found on inquiry that the
information _might_ have been gathered from the stones in the local

A common retort of the Spiritualist, when you point out the possibility
of the medium impersonating the dead, is that, "if she did so, she must
be one of the cleverest actresses in England." You are asked,
triumphantly, why the lady should be content with a few pounds a week as
a despised medium, when she might be making five thousand a year on a
stage. Any person who has seen these "trances" will know the value of
their "dramatic" art. Almost anybody could do it. The medium makes from
three to five pounds a week by such things, but if she tried the stage
she would have, at the most, a minor part with fifty or sixty pounds a
year. Spiritualists get their judgments weirdly distorted by their bias.
I need only quote the extravagant language in which Sir A. C. Doyle
refers to Mr. Vale Owen's trash or Mrs. Spencer's picture of Christ. He
makes the miracle in which he wishes to believe.

Two particular cases of spirit messages by automatic writing have lately
been pressed upon us, and we must briefly examine them. One is given in
a book by Mr. F. Bligh Bond, called _The Gate of Remembrance_, which is
recommended to us by Sir A. C. Doyle as one of the five particularly
convincing works which he would have us read. He again fails to tell his
readers that Mr. Bligh Bond draws a very different conclusion than his
own from the facts. He has a mystical theory of a universal memory or
consciousness, a sort of ocean into which the memories of the dead have
flowed. He does not believe that the individual spirits of the dead
monks of pre-Reformation days came along and dictated their views
through his automatic-writing friend.

Any person, however, who reads the book impartially will see no need for
either the Spiritualist view or Mr. Bond's. The main point is that,
through Mr. Bond's friend, Mr. John Alleyne, what purported to be the
ghosts of the old monks of Glastonbury Abbey wrote quite vivid sketches
of their medieval life in the Abbey and, particularly, suggested the
position and general features of a chapel that was at the time unknown.
As to the character or impersonation of the monks, which seems to
Spiritualists so impressive, we are told by experts on medieval language
that it will not sustain criticism. The language is quaint and pleasant
to read, but it is not consistent either in old English or Latin. It is
the language of a man who is familiar with medieval English and Latin,
but does not speak it as his _own_ language, and so often trips. It is,
in other words, Mr. John Alleyne writing old English and medieval Latin,
and stumbling occasionally.

As to the indication of a buried chapel, both this and the general
impersonation of the old monks are intelligible to any man who has read
the book itself, not Spiritualist accounts of it. Mr. Bond, an architect
and archæologist, expected to be appointed to the charge of the ruins,
and he and his friend Mr. Alleyne steeped themselves, all through the
year 1907, in the literature of the subject. They read all that was
known about Glastonbury, and lived for months in the medieval
atmosphere. Then Mr. Alleyne took his pencil and began to write
automatically. The general result is not strange; nor is it at all
supernatural that he should have formed a theory about the lost chapel
and conveyed this to paper in the guise of a message from one of the old

The next work recommended to us is a short paper by Mr. Gerald Balfour
called "The Ear of Dionysius" (published in the _Proceedings of the
Society for Psychical Research_, vol. xxix, March, 1917). The writing
medium, Mrs. Verrall, a Cambridge lady of a highly cultivated and
refined type and an excellent classical scholar, found in her automatic
"script" on August 26, 1910, a reference to "the Ear of Dionysius."
Three years and a-half later another writing medium, Mrs. Willett, got
one of those rambling and incoherent messages, which are customary, in
reference to "the Ear of Dionysius." This seemed to be more than a
coincidence, as Mrs. Willett is no classical scholar. But Mr. Balfour
candidly warns us that Mrs. Willett said that she had heard nothing
about the earlier reference to the Ear of Dionysius in Mrs. Verrall's
case. It would be remarkable if the fact had been kept entirely secret
for three and a-half years, as some importance was attached to it in
psychic circles, and we may prefer to trust Mr. Balfour's memory rather
than Mrs. Willett's. He says that he feels sure that one day, in the
long interval, Mrs. Willett asked him what the Ear of Dionysius was.

Mr. Balfour, however, believes that in the sequel we have fair evidence
of spirit communication. The reader who is not familiar with these
matters should know that a new test had been devised for controlling the
origin of these messages. It was felt that if the "spirit" of one of the
dead psychical researchers (who could no longer read or remember the
sealed messages they had left) were to give an unintelligible message to
one medium, a second unintelligible message to a second medium, and then
the key to both to either or to a third medium, and if the contents of
these messages were strictly withheld from the mediums (each knowing
only her own part), a very definite proof of spirit origin would be
afforded. Thus the ghost of Mr. Verrall or Mr. Myers might take a line
of an obscure Greek poet, give one word of it to Mrs. Thompson, another
to Mrs. Willett, and then point out the connection through Mrs. Verrall.
Mr. Balfour claims that this was done in connection with the Ear of
Dionysius. Mrs. Willett, who does not know Latin or Greek, got messages
containing a number of classical allusions. Among them was one which no
one could understand, and the key to this was some time afterwards given
in the automatic writing of Mrs. Verrall.

The reader will now begin to understand the serious and respectable part
of modern Spiritualism. I presume that these cultivated Spiritualists
regard the "physical phenomena" of the movement and the ordinary mediums
with the same contempt that I do. They know that fraud is being
perpetrated daily, and that the history of the movement, since its
beginning in 1848, has reeked with fraud. It is on these refined
messages and cross-references that they would stake their faith.

But, while we readily grant that these things offer an arguable case and
must not be dismissed with the disdain which we have shown in the
previous chapters, we feel that the new basis is altogether insecure and
inadequate. Two mediums get a reference to so remote and unlikely a
thing as "the Ear of Dionysius." When you put it in this simple form it
sounds impressive; but we saw that there was an interval of three and
a-half years, and we do not feel at all sure that people so profoundly
interested, so religiously eager, in these matters would succeed in
keeping the first communication entirely from the ears of medium No. 2.
In point of fact, Mr. Balfour tells us that he has a distinct
recollection of being asked by Mrs. Willett, during the interval, what
the Ear of Dionysius was. Mrs. Willett denies it. We shall probably
prefer the disinterested memory of Mr. Balfour. Now, the very same
weakness is found even in the second part of the story. For any
evidential value it rests on two very large suppositions:--

1. That one medium knew absolutely nothing about the most interesting
and promising development which was for months agitating the minds of
her own friends.

2. That another medium heroically refrained from reading up any
classical dictionaries or works on the subject, and reserved her mind
strictly for whatever information the spirits might give her.

One can scarcely be called hypercritical if one has doubts about these
suppositions. There does not seem to be any room for the theory either
of telepathy or of spirit communication.

The two experiences I have just analysed are selected by Sir A. C. Doyle
as the most convincing in the whole of the work of the more modern and
more refined Spiritualists. I need not linger over other experiences of
these automatic writers. For the most part, automatic writing provides
only vapid or inaccurate stuff which is its own refutation. In the early
years, when Franklin, Shakespeare, Plato, and all the most illustrious
dead wrote nonsense of the most vapoury description, the situation was
quite grotesque. Nor is this kind of thing yet extinct. There are
mediums practising in London to-day who put the sitter in communication
with the sages and poets of ancient times. In the very best of these
cases there is a certain silliness about the communications which makes
them difficult to read. Even the spirits of Myers and Verrall seem to be
in a perpetual Bank-Holiday mood, making naive little puns and jokes,
and talking in the rambling, incoherent way that scholars do only in
hours of domestic dissipation. There is a world thirsting (it is said)
for proof that the dead still live. Here are (it is said) men like W. T.
Stead, Myers, Hodgson, Verrall, Sidgwick, Vice-Admiral Moore, Robert
Owen, etc., at the "other end of the wire," as William James used to
say. Yet, apparently, nothing can be said or done that quite clearly
goes beyond the power of the mediums. The arrogance of the Spiritualists
in the circumstances is amazing.

There are a dozen ways in which the theory could be rigorously tested.
One has been tried and completely failed: the communication of messages
which were left in proper custody before death. We shall, of course,
presently have an announcement that such a message has been read. Some
zealous Spiritualist will leave a sealed message, and will take care
that some medium or other is able to read it. We may be prepared for
such things. The fact is that half-a-dozen serious and reliable
Spiritualists have tried this test, and it has hopelessly miscarried.
Another test was that devised by Dr. Hodgson--to leave messages in
cipher, though not sealed. This also has completely failed. A third test
would be for one of these ghosts of learned Cambridge men, who are so
fluent on things that do not matter, to dictate a passage from an
obscure Greek poet through a medium who does not know Greek _at the
request of a sitter_. It is a familiar and ancient trick for a medium
to recite or write a passage in a foreign language. It has been learned
beforehand. But let a scholar ask the spirit of a dead scholar to spell
out through the ignorant medium _there and then_ a specified line or
passage within his knowledge. I have tried the experiment. It never
succeeds. Another test would be for one of these ghostly scholars to
dictate a word of a line of some obscure Greek poet (chosen by the
sitter) to one medium (ignorant of Greek), and another word of the same
line to another medium immediately afterwards, before there was the
remotest possibility of communication.

A score of such tests could be devised. Three of the best writing
mediums the Society for Psychical Research cares to indicate could be
accommodated, under proper observation, in different rooms of the same
building, and these tests carried out. We could invite the spirit to
pass from medium to medium and repeat the message to all three, or give
a part to each. Until some such rigorous inquiry is carried out, we may
decline to be interested. I have before me several volumes of the
_Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research_. Candidly, they are
full of trash and padding. There is very little that merits serious
consideration, and nothing that is not weakened by uncertainties,
suppressions, and over-zealous eagerness.

In fine, what impresses any man who reads much of all the volumes of
"revelation" which have been vouchsafed to us is the entirely _earthly_
character of it all. The Spiritualist theory is that men grow rapidly
wiser after death. Plato is two thousand years wiser than he was when he
lived. Ptah-hotep is six thousand years older and wiser. Neither these,
nor Buddha nor Christ nor any other moralist, has a word of wisdom for
us. In fact, a theory has had to be invented which supposes that they
move away from the earth to distant regions of the spirit-world as they
grow older, and so cannot communicate. It is a pity they are not
"permitted" to do so for propaganda purposes. But even those who remain
in communication have learned nothing since they left the earth. No
discovery has ever yet been communicated to us. In Spiritualist
literature, it is true, there is a claim that certain unknown facts
about the satellites of Uranus were revealed; but Flammarion makes short
work of the claim. The communications _never_ rise above the level of
the thought and knowledge of living humanity: never even above the level
of the knowledge available to the mediums. It is scarcely an "insanity
of incredulity" to suppose that they originated there.



About twenty years ago a writing medium, a sober professional man whose
character would not be questioned, showed me a pile of his automatic
"script." He sincerely believed that he had for several years been in
communication with the dead. I glanced over many sheets of platitude and
familiar moralizing, and then asked him to tell me how they described
the new world in which the dead lived. He hesitated, and tried to
convince me that this point, which seemed to me the most interesting of
all, was unimportant. When I pressed, he said that it was a world so
different from ours that the spirits could hardly convey a coherent
description of it in our language. They had to be content with such
vague phrases as that they "lived in houses of flowers."

That was the state of the "new revelation" twenty years ago. Long before
that whole volumes of quite precise description of ghost-land had been
written, but it was discredited. Andrew Jackson Davis had invented the
name "Summerland," which Sir A. C. Doyle adopts to-day; but Davis's
wonderful gospel had turned out to be a farrago of wild speculation,
founded on an imperfect grasp of a crude, early stage of science. Then
Stainton Moses and hundreds of other automatic writers had given us
knowledge about the next world. A common feature of these early
descriptions was that the dead lived in a quasi-material universe round
about the earth and could visit the various planets and the sun at any
time. In that case, of course, they could give most valuable assistance
to our astronomers, and they were quite willing. Some said that there
were living beings on the sun. As a matter of fact, one of our early
astronomers had conjectured that there might be a cool, dark surface
below the shining clouds which give out the light of the sun, and this
"spirit" was following his lead. We know to-day that no part of the sun
falls below a temperature of 7,000° C. Others described life on Jupiter
and Saturn, and we now know that they are red-hot. Another medium, Helen
Smith, attracted to herself a most romantic interest for years because
she was controlled by the spirit of a late inhabitant of the planet
Mars, and we learned a marvellous amount of weird detail about life on

The thing was so obviously overdone, and Spiritualism was so generally
discredited in the eighties on account of the very numerous exposures of
mediums, that for a time revelations were less frequent. People fell
back very largely on the older belief, that the dead are "pure spirits,"
living in an environment that cannot be described in our language, which
is material. This, in point of fact, is a hollow and insincere pretext.
Philosophers have been accustomed for two thousand years to describe the
life of the spirit, and have provided a vocabulary for any who are
interested in it. The truth is that ideas were changing, and mediums
were not at all sure what it was safe to say.

Towards the close of the century there was some revival of Spiritualism,
and there were fresh attempts to describe the beautiful world beyond the
grave. Mediums were then in the "houses of flowers" stage. It sounded
very pretty, but you must not take it literally. With the advance of the
new century, mediums recovered all their confidence. It was at the
beginning of the present century that physicists began to discover that
matter was composed of electrons, and "ether" was the most discussed
subject in the whole scientific press. Here was a grand opportunity. A
world of ether would not be so crudely Materialistic as the earlier
post-mortem world of the mediums. Yet it might be moulded by the
imagination into a more or less material shape. It must be frankly
admitted that the "pure spirit" idea is not attractive. Those who yearn
to meet again the people they had known and loved are a little chilled
at the prospect of finding only what seems to be an abstraction, a mere
mathematical point, a thing paler and less tangible than a streak of
mist. Ether was therefore gladly seized as a good compromise. Ghost-land
was in the ether of space.

There had been, it is true, earlier references in Spiritualist
revelations to "ether bodies," but it is chiefly since the series of
discoveries in science to which radium led that the modern Spiritualist
idea has been evolved. As usual, the spiritual revelations follow in the
rear of advancing science. But in this case the automatic writers had a
great advantage. They need only follow the lead of Sir Oliver Lodge,
who, however curious his ideas of physiology may be, is certainly an
authority on ether. He began by hinting mysteriously that he saw "a
spiritual significance" in ether. Following up that clue, the automatic
writers have worked so industriously that we now know the "Summerland"
more thoroughly than we know Central Africa or Thibet.

Buoyed up by the growing sentiment of agreement, as proved by the very
profitable sales of his works, Sir Oliver Lodge, in _Raymond_, gave the
world a vast amount of detail about the land beyond the grave. He did
not guarantee it, it is true. That is not his way. But he assured the
public that his mediums were undoubtedly "in touch" with his dead son,
and the Spiritualist public must be pardoned if they understood that all
the marvellous matter put out in the name of Raymond was to be taken
seriously. The message was really ingenious. Raymond was, unhappily, not
merely unable to give "direct voice" communications, as Sir A. C.
Doyle's son is believed to have done, but he could not even directly
communicate through Mrs. Leonard, the medium. He used as an
intermediary the spirit of a child named "Feda"; and, of course, when
one has to use a child--and such an irresponsible, lisping, foolish
little child as "Feda"--as intermediary, you must not press the message
literally in every part. The method had the advantage of pleasing
Spiritualists, who found a complete confirmation of all their
speculations about ghost-land, and at the same time disarming critics,
because Raymond was not really responsible.

Many people did not fully realize this when they bore down heavily and
contemptuously on the description of the next world which is given in
_Raymond_. The deceased young officer had a "nice doggie," which he
brought along with him when he strolled to the medium's shop to send a
message to his distinguished father. Presently the medium added a "cat,"
though she said nothing about a cats'-meat man. Raymond had also what I
believe young officers call "a bird"--a young lady acquaintance on
spiritual terms. There were cows in the spirit meadows and flowers in
the gardens. Our "damaged flowers," we are told, pass over to the other
side and raise their heads once more gloriously. Why they flower if
there are no bees, whether they have chlorophyll circulating in their
leaves, whether the soil is sandy or clayey, etc., we are not told. The
information comes in chance clots, as if Raymond were too busy with
ethereal billiards to study the natural history of ghostland very
closely. We are told to picture Raymond in a real suit of clothes. He
was offered the orthodox white sheet, which every right-minded spirit
wears; but he had a British young man's repugnance to that sort of
thing. So in the laboratories on the other side they made Raymond an
ordinary suit, out of "damaged worsted" which we earthly wastrels had no
use for. For other young officers, with less refined tastes, they
manufactured whisky-and-soda and cigars. "Don't think I'm stretching
it," Raymond observed to his father, through "Feda" and Mrs. Leonard.
The father does not say what he thought.

Now, it is, as I said, quite wrong for Spiritualists to plant all this
upon the authority of Sir Oliver Lodge. Does he not warn us in a
footnote that he has "not yet traced the source of all this supposed
information"? It would not take most of us long to do so, but the remark
at least leaves open a way of retreat for Sir Oliver Lodge. On the other
hand, we must not blame Spiritualists too severely. He assures them that
this lady, Mrs. Leonard, is in undoubted communication with his dead
son, and one may question whether he is entitled to take one part of the
lady's message as genuine and leave other parts open. At all events,
this puerile and bewildering nonsense was put before the world in an
expensive book by Sir Oliver Lodge, with his personal assurance that
Mrs. Leonard was a genuine medium.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle next gathered details from scores of revelations
of this kind--they fell upon us like leaves in Vallombrosa after Sir
Oliver Lodge's bold lead--and built them into a consistent picture of
"Summerland." It is an ether world. Each of us has a duplicate of his
body in ether. This is quite in harmony with science, he says, because
some one has discovered that "bound" ether--that is to say, ether
enclosed in a material body--is different from the free ether of space.
From this slight difference Sir A. C. Doyle concludes that there is a
portion of ether shaped exactly like my body; then, by a still more
heroic leap of the imagination, he gathers that this special ether has
not merely the contour of my body, but duplicates all its internal
organs and minute parts; and lastly--this is a really prodigious
leap--he supposes that this ether duplicate will remain when the body
dissolves. On that theory, naturally, every flower and tree and rock
that ever existed, every house or ship that was ever built, every oyster
or chicken that was ever swallowed, has left an ether duplicate

Well, when you die, your ethereal body remains, and is animated by your
soul just as the body of flesh was. A death-bed is, on the new view, a
most remarkable scene. Men and women weep round the ghastly expiring
frame, but all round them are invisible (ether) beings smiling and
joyful. When the last breath leaves the prostrate body, you stand erect
in your ethereal frame, and your ethereal friends gather round and wring
your ethereal hand. Congratulations over, one radiant spirit takes you
by the hand and leads you through the solid wall and out into the
beyond. Presumably he is in a hurry to fit you with one of the "damaged
worsted" suits. Sir Arthur stresses the fact that they have the same
sense of modesty as we.

The next step is rather vague. One gathers that the reborn man is dazed,
and he goes to sleep for weeks or months. Sleep is generally understood
to be a natural process by which nerve and muscle, which have become
loaded with chemical refuse, are relieved of this by the blood. What it
means in ghostland we have not the least idea. But why puzzle over
details where all is a challenge to common human reason? You awaken
presently in Summerland and get your bearings. This is so much like the
paradise described by Mr. Vale Owen that we will put ourselves under the
guidance of that gentleman. I would merely note here a little
inconsistency in the gospel according to St. Conan.

One of the now discovered charms of Summerland is that the young rapidly
reach maturity, and the old go back to maturity. The ether-duplicate of
the stillborn child continues to grow--we would give much for a treatise
from Professor Huxley (in his new incarnation) on this process of growth
without mitosis and metabolism--and the ether-duplicate of the shrunken
old lady of eighty smoothes out its wrinkles, straightens its back, and
recovers its fine contour of adipose tissue. But here a difficulty
occurred to Sir A. C. Doyle. In his lectures all over the kingdom he has
had to outbid the preacher. _I_ promise you, he told bereaved mothers,
that you shall see again just the blue-eyed, golden-haired child that
you lost. He even says this in his book. With all goodwill, we cannot
let him have it both ways. If children rapidly mature, mothers will not
see the golden-haired child again.

At the risk of seeming meticulous, I would point out another aspect of
the revelation on which more information is desirable. Golden hair
implies a certain chemical combination which is well known to the
physiologist. Blue eyes mean a certain degree of thinness of pigment on
the front curtains of the eye. Now, ether has no chemical elements. It
is precisely the subtle substance of the universe which is not yet
moulded into chemical elements. Are we to take it that Summerland is
really a material universe, not an ether world?

As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has glowingly praised the revelations which
have come through the Rev. Mr. Vale Owen, I turn to these for closer
guidance, and I find that my suspicion is correct. The next world is a
material world. Whether it has a different sun from ours is not stated,
but it is a world of wonderful colour. Flowers of the most gorgeous
description live in it perpetually. Whether they ever grew up or will
ever decay, whether they have roots in soil and need water, the prophet
has not yet told us. But the world is lovely with masses of flowers.
People also dress like the flowers. They have beautifully coloured robes
and gems (none of your "damaged worsted" for Mr. Vale Owen). In other
words, light, never-fading light, is the grand feature of the next
world. Since ether does not reflect light, it is obviously a material

Music is the second grand element. Perhaps Mr. Owen would dispute this,
and say that preaching is the outstanding feature. Certainly, everybody
he describes preaches so constantly and so dully that many people will
not like the prospect. Let us take it, rather, that music is the second
great feature. They have great factories for musical instruments which
make a mockery of Brinsmeads. The bands go up high towers and produce
effects which no earthly musician ever dreamed of producing. It follows,
of course, that the ghosts not only tread a solid soil, in which flowers
grow, on which they build towers and mansions, but a very considerable
atmosphere floats above the soil. Mr. Vale Owen, in fact, introduces
streams and sheets of water; lovely lakes and rivers for the good ghosts
and "stagnant pools" in the slums of ghostland. We will not press this.
Mr. Owen forgot for a moment that it _never rains_ in Summerland. But
the atmosphere is an essential part of the revelation, as without it
there will certainly be no music or flying birds. And an atmosphere
means a very solid material world. Our moon, which weighs millions of
billions of tons, is too light to possess an atmosphere and water.
Consequently, there must be thousands of miles of solid rock and metal
underfoot in ghostland.

It follows further that, since ghostland is very spacious, and since at
least a billion humans (to say nothing of animals) have quitted this
earth since the ape men first wandered over it, this other material
universe must be very extensive. If all the inhabited planets in the
universe have their Summerlands, or all pour their dead into one vast
Summerland, one begins to see that modern science is a ridiculous
illusion. We should not see the sun, to say nothing of stars a thousand
billion miles away, or even remoter nebulæ. As to astronomical
calculations of mass and gravitation....

I can sustain the comedy no longer. These "revelations" are the most
childish twaddle that has been put before our race since the Middle
Ages. They are the meanderings of imaginations on a level with that of a
fifteen-year-old school-girl. One really begins to wonder if our
generation is _not_ in a state of senile decay, when tens of thousands
of us acclaim this sort of thing as an outcome of superhuman
intelligence. It is on a level with the "happy hunting grounds" of the
Amerind. It is a dreamy parson's idea of the kind of world he would
like to retire to, and continue to "do good" without getting tired. It
is a flimsy, irresponsible, juvenile thing of paint and tinsel and
gold-foil: the kind of transformation-scene in which we revelled, at the
Christmas pantomime, when we were young. Our generation needs guidance
if ever any generation of men did. Another great war would wreck the
planet. The social soil heaves with underground movements. The stars are
hidden from view. And people come before us with this kind of insipid
puerility, and tell us it is "the greatest message ever offered to man."

Seriously, what it is can be told in few words. It is partly a fresh
attempt to bring our generation back to religion. It is partly an
attempt to divert working people from the politics and economics of
_this_ world. And it is partly a fresh outbreak of the unlimited
credulity which every epidemic of Spiritualism has developed since 1848.
There was such a phase in the fifties of the nineteenth century, when
Spiritualism swept over the world. There was a second such phase in the
seventies, when materializations began. This was checked by exposures
everywhere in the early eighties, and not until our time has
Spiritualism partly recovered. Now the vast and lamentable emotional
disturbance of the War has given it a fresh opportunity, and for a time
the flame of credulity has soared up again.

To come back to the question which forms the title of this book, the
reader may supply the answer, but I will venture to offer him a few
summary reflections. We do well to distinguish two classes of phenomena.
Broadly, but by no means exactly, this is the distinction between
psychical and physical phenomena. Messages on slates or paper from the
spirit-world I would class with the physical phenomena. We have seen
that they reek with fraud, and there is no serious claim that any of
them are genuine.

The nearest we can get to a useful division is to set on one side a
small class of mediums of high character who claim that, in trance and
script, they are spirit-controlled.

Spiritualism is not based on these things. The thousands of enthusiastic
Spiritualists of Great Britain and America know nothing about the "Ear
of Dionysius" and the "cross-correspondences" of the Psychical
Researchers. Their faith is solidly based on physical phenomena. They
are taught by their leaders to base it on physical phenomena. Sir A. C.
Doyle and Sir W. Barrett urge the levitations and other miracles of D.
D. Horne and Stainton Moses and Kathleen Goligher. Sir Oliver Lodge--who
seems also to admit the preceding--asks us to consider seriously the
performances of Marthe Beraud. Sir W. Crookes lets it be understood that
to the day of his death he believed in "Katie King" and the
spirit-played accordion. Professor Richet, and all those other
professors and scholars whose names are fondly quoted by Spiritualists,
rely entirely on physical phenomena. If you cut out all the
physical-phenomena mediums of the nineteenth century, and all the
ghost-photographs and "direct voices" of to-day, you have very little
left. That is to say that Spiritualism is generally based on fraud.

Does it matter? Yes, it matters exceedingly. It matters more than it
ever did before. The world is at a pass where it needs the
clearest-headed attention and warmest interest of every man and woman
in every civilization. Fine sentiments, too, we want; but not a
sentimentality that palsies the judgment. Men never faced graver
problems or had a greater opportunity. Instead of distraction we want
concentration on earth. Instead of dreaminess we want a close
appreciation of realities. There lies before our generation a period
either of greater general prosperity than was ever known before, or a
period of prolonged and devastating struggle. Which it shall be depends
on our wisdom.

Is there any need to settle whether we shall live after death? The
Spiritualist says that if we could convince men that their lot in that
other world will be decided by their characters they will be more eager
for justice, honour, and sobriety. But a man's position in _this_ world
is settled by his character. Justice, honour, and sobriety are laws of
_this_ world. Men would have perceived it long ago, and acted
accordingly, but for the unfortunate belief that these qualities were
arbitrarily commanded by supernatural powers. We need no other-worldly
motives whatever for the cultivation of character. Indeed, so far as I
can see, the man who gambles and drinks is more likely to say to the
Spiritualist: "You tell me there is no vindictive hell for what I do
here. You tell me there are no horses or fiery drinks in that other
world. Then I will drink and bet while the opportunity remains, and be
sober and prudent afterwards."

But the dead, the loved ones we have lost! Must we forfeit this new hope
that we may see them again? Let us make no mistake. Half the civilized
world has already forfeited it. Six million people in London never
approach a church, and the vast majority of these believe no longer in
heaven. So it is in the large towns of nearly every civilization. Yet
the number of Spiritualists in the entire world is not one-tenth the
number of "pagans" in London alone. And there is no weeping and gnashing
of teeth. At the time of the wrench one suffers. Slowly nature embalms
the wound, as she already draws her green mantle over the hideous wounds
of France and Belgium. We learn serenity. Life is a gift. Every friend
and dear one is a gift. It is not wise to complain that gifts do not
last for ever.

The finest sentiment you can bestow on the memory of the dead is to make
the world better for the living. Has your child been torn from you? In
its memory try to make the world safer and happier for the myriads of
children who remain. This earth is but a poor drab thing compared with
what it could be made in a single generation. Hotbeds of disease abound
in our cities, and children fall in scandalous numbers in the heat of
summer or perish in the blasts of winter. Let the pain of loss drive us
survivors into securing that losses shall be less frequent and less
painful. Do not listen to those who say that critics crush the voice of
the heart in the name of reason. We want all the heart we can get in
life, all the strength of emotion and devotion we can engender. But let
it be expended on the plain, and plainly profitable, task of making this
earth a Summerland. Do that, as your leisure and your powers permit,
and, when the day is over, you will lie down with a smile, whether you
are ever to awaken or are to sleep for ever.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Is Spiritualism Based on Fraud?" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.