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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/745

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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SPIRITUALISM.

about his person so as to reflect whatever was going on beneath the table. "In the mirror I beheld a hand ... stealthily insert its fingers between the leaves of the slate, take out the little slip (containing the question), unfold and again fold it, grasp the little pencil ... and with rapid but noiseless motion ... write across the slate from left to right a few lines; then the leaves of the slate were closed, the little pencil laid on the top," and the spirits invoked to please send a message.

Is it necessary to continue the catalogue of vulgar deceit: to tell how Dr. Furness sends out sealed letters the contents of which the spirits are to read and answer without opening, and finds the seals tampered with and mucilage and skill used to conceal the crime; how he asks the same question of various mediums and receives hopelessly contradictory answers; how he detects the form of the medium in her assumed materializations and finds the spirit ready to answer to any and every name in fiction or reality, from "Olivia" of "The Talking Oak" to Shakespeare; how a medium who materializes a right hand while apparently holding his neighbor's hand with both his own, is shown to imitate this double grip with one hand and do the hocus-pocus with the other—in short, how universal, how coarse, how degrading this fraud is; how readily it leaves its hiding-place to snatch at a cunningly offered bait, until it becomes ridiculous?[1]

Let us rather turn to another independent investigation published by the English Society for Psychical Research (October, 1886, to May, 1887). The great English medium, whose performances as described are really miraculous, is Englinton, and his specialty is slate-writing. The late Prof. H. Carvill Lewis (of Philadelphia) had sittings with Englinton, and reported as follows: He sat intently watching Englinton for an hour, and nothing happened; fearing a blank seance, he purposely diverted his attention. The moment he looked away, the manifestations began, and he could see "the medium look down intently toward his knees and


    man in his ability to deceive, and at the recklessness of the risks which he assumes in the most barefaced manner. The only reason of our having any so-called 'manifestations,' under the circumstances, was because of the fact that the committee had agreed in advance to be entirely passive, and to acquiesce in every condition imposed."
    Mrs. Sidgwick, an able English observer, detected the fraudulent character of Slade's performances from the beginning. She points out five important grounds of suspicion: "His conjurer-like way of trying to distract one's attention, his always sitting so as to have the right hand to manipulate the slate, the vague and general character of the communications, his compelling one to sit with one's hands in a position that makes it difficult to look under the table, and his only allowing two sitters at a time."

  1. The barefacedness of the medium's business reaches its climax in the fact (communicated to me by Dr. Furness) that a noted medium had visited a professional juggler, and, "making no secret to him of his trickery as medium for independent slate-writing, had purchased from the juggler several other tricks with which to carry on his spiritualistic trade."