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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/746

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

in the direction of the slate. I now quickly turned back my head, when the slate was brought up against the table with a sharp rap." He repeated the manœuvre, with the same result, and while the writing was going on he distinctly saw "the movement of the central tendon in his wrist corresponding to that made by his middle finger in the act of writing. Each movement of the tendon was simultaneously accompanied by the sound of a scratch on the slate." Again, for the answer to another question, Englinton requires the use of a dictionary, and leaves the room for a minute; the answer is then written just as it is given in Webster's dictionary; but, unfortunately, albumina was read for alumina. When the slate, which closes with a spring, is to be closed, Englinton suddenly sneezes; when the writing is small and faint, he struggles until he gets within a few inches of it; a postage-stamp secretly glued across the two leaves of the double slate prevents all manifestations; a double fee immediately causes further manifestations, while a minute before such were declared impossible, owing to the exhaustion of power; and the writing on the slates is identified by an expert as that of Englinton.[1]

Mrs. Henry Sidgwick records her experience with many mediums, and supports the same verdict. She was often unable to detect the exact modus operandi of the medium, but has never seen anything which was not well within the range and strongly suggestive of conjuring, and mostly of no high order of conjuring.

But all this accounts for only part of the problem. To convict every medium of fraud is not a complete explanation of the appearance which this belief now presents. It remains to account for the great success of the movement; for the fact that so many have been deceived and so few have really understood; to show why we are to believe the Seybert commission, and not credit the countless miracle-mongers. This is psychologically the most interesting portion of the problem, and has recently been very successfully treated by Mrs. Sidgwick, Mr. Hodgson, and Mr. Davey, of the English Society for Psychic Research.

There is a very broad-spread notion that anybody can go to a spiritualistic séance and give a reliable opinion as to whether what he or she has seen is explicable as conjuring or not. Especially in this country, where the right to one's opinion is regarded as a corollary to the right of liberty, does this notion prevail. The

  1. If further proof be required of the degrading contrivances to which this medium will resort, we have it in his conviction of connivance with Mme. Blavatsky in the production of a spurious theosophic marvel, as well as in the following evidence supplied by Mr. Padshah and indorsed by Mr. Hodgson (the exposer of Mme. Blavatsky): Mr. Padshah and a friend had asked for Gujerati writing at a séance, but did not get it; the former then anonymously sent a poem in Gujerati to Englinton, and his friend (who was not initiated in the trick) brought the same copied in every detail on a slate as the direct revelation of the spirits in a sitting with the medium!