Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/751

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tant detail, Dr. Furness will supply one. Certain highly intelligent observers describe to him the doings of a Boston medium: "There are two tables in the room of séance, at one of which sits the medium, at the other the visitor. The visitor at his table writes his question in pencil at the top of a long slip of paper, and, after folding over several times the portion of the slip on which his question is written, gums it down with mucilage and hands it to the medium, who thereupon places on the folded and gummed portion his left hand, and in a few minutes with his right hand writes down answers to the concealed questions; these answers are marvels of pertinency, and prove beyond a cavil the clairvoyant or spiritual powers of the medium." Dr. Furness went to the medium, prepared his slip of paper about as described, and thus continues: "As soon as he took his seat, and laid the strip on his table before him, I rose and approached the table so as to keep my paper still in sight; the row of books entirely intercepted my view of it. The medium instantly motioned to me to return to my seat, and, I think, told me to do so. I obeyed, and as I did so could not repress a profound sigh. Why had no one ever told me of that row of books?"

Before passing sentence one must hear what the defendant has to say. The usual defense consists in claiming that the conviction of fraud in some mediums does not prove the absence of genuine phenomena in others. Some even claim, as we saw, that fraud and spirit manifestations can go hand in hand. Furthermore, they hold that the conditions for success demanded by the mediums, though they make the phenomena resemble a juggler's performance, are perfectly explicable on spiritualistic grounds. Writing is best produced in the dark because dark is "negative," light "positive," and negative conditions are most favorable to communication; if the spirit that appears resembles the medium, that is an effect of the materializing process; if writing does not occur when the slate is looked at, it is because the magnetism of the eye is unfavorable; and has not Dr. Slade received an express command from the spirits forbidding him, on penalty of cutting off all communication, to attempt to write on sealed slates?

In the first place, while it is not thus proved that every action of every medium is fraudulent, it makes it more and more probable, especially as the very conditions necessary for a serious investigation are denied on fanciful grounds. The fact that scientific examination everywhere reveals deception makes it extremely probable that, when exposure has not taken place, it is because there was no scientific examination. At any rate, the burden of proof is with the claimants for supernatural manifestations, and their case has now been so much weakened that it can no longer