The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 31
Summary of the More Important Manifestations, Physical and Mental
Summary of the More Important Manifestations, Physical and Mental.
As we have not been able to give an account of many facts which occur with the various classes of mediums, the following catalogue of the most important and well-characterised phenomena may be useful. They may be grouped provisionally, as, Physical, or those in which material objects are acted on, or apparently material bodies produced; and Mental, or those which consist in the exhibition by the medium of powers or faculties not possessed in the normal slate.
The principal physical phenomena are the following:—
1. Simple Physical Phenomena.—--Producing sound of all kinds, from a delicate tick to blows like those of a sledge-hammer. Altering the weight of bodies. Moving bodies without human agency. Raising bodies into the air. Conveying bodies to a distance out of and into closed rooms. Releasing mediums from every description of bonds, even from welded iron rings, as has happened in America.
2. Chemical.—--Preserver from the effects of fire, as already detailed.
3. Direct Writing Drawing.—Producing writing or drawing on marked papers, placed n such positions that no human hand (or foot) can touch. Sometimes, visibly to the spectators, a pencil rising up and writing or drawing apparently by itself. Some of the drawings in many colors have been produced on marked paper in from ten to twenty seconds, and the colors found wet. (See Mr. Coleman's evidence, in "Dialectical Report," p. 143, confirmed by Lord Borthwick, p. 150). Mr. Thomas Slater of 136 Euston Road, is now obtaining communications in the following manner:—--A page 29 bit of slate pencil an eighth of an inch long is laid on a table; a clean slate is laid over this, in a well-lighted room; the sound of writing is then heard, and in a few minutes a communication of considerable length is found distinctly written. At other times the slate is held between himself and another person, their other hands being joined. Some of these communications are philosophical discussions on the nature of spirit and matter, supporting the usual theory on this subject.
4. Musical Phenomena.—Musical instruments, of various kinds, played without human agency, from a hand-bell to a closed piano. With some mediums, and where the conditions are favorable, original musical compositions of a very high character are produced. This occurs with Mr. Home.
5. Spiritual Forms.—These are either luminous appearances, sparks, stars, globes of light, luminous clouds, &c.; or, hands, faces, or entire human figures, generally covered with flowing drapery, except a portion of the face and hands. The human forms are often capable of moving solid objects, and are both visible and tangible to all present. In other cases they are only visible to seers, but when this is the case it sometimes happens that the seer describes the figure as lifting a flower or a pen, and others present see the flower or the pen apparently move by itself. In some cases they speak distinctly; in others the voice is heard by all, the form only seen by the medium. The flowing robes of these forms have in some cases been examined, and pieces cut, which have in a short time melted away. Flowers are also brought, some of which fade away and vanish; others are real, and can be kept indefinitely. It most not be concluded that any of these forms are actual spirits, they are probably only temporary fronts produced by spirits for purposes of test, or of recognition by their friends. This is the account invariably given of them by communications obtained in various ways; so that the objection once thought to be so crushing—that there can be no "ghosts" of clothes, armour, or walking-sticks—ceases to have any weight.
6. Spiritual Photographs.—These, as just detailed, demonstrate by a purely physical experiment the trustworthiness of the preceding class of observations.
We now come to the mental phenomena, of which the following are the chief.
1. Automatic Writing.—The medium writes involuntarily; often matter which he is not thinking about, does not expect, and does not like. Occasionally definite and correct information is given of facts of which the medium has not, nor ever had, any knowledge. Sometimes future events are accurately predicted. The writing takes place either by the hand or through a planchette. Often the hand-writing changes. Sometimes it is written backwards; sometimes in languages the medium does not understand.
2. Seeing, or Clairvoyance and Clairaudience.—This is of various kinds. Some mediums see the forms of deceased persons unknown to them, and describe their peculiarities so minutely that their friends at once recognise them. They often hear voices, through which they obtain names, date, place, connected with the individuals so described. Others read sealed letters in any language, and write appropriate answers.
3. Trance Speaking.—The medium goes into a more or less unconscious state, and then speaks, often on matters and in a style far beyond his own capacities. Thus, Serjeant Cox—no mean judge on a matter of literary style—says, "I have heard an uneducated barman, when in a state of trance, maintain a dialogue with a party of philosophers on Reason and Foreknowledge, Will and Fate,' and bold his own against them. I have put to bins the most difficult questions in psychology, and received answers, always page 30 thoughtful, often full of wisdom, and invariably conveyed in choice and elegant language. Nevertheless a quarter of an hour afterwards, when released from the trance, he was unable to answer the simplest query on a philosophical subject, and was even at a loss for sufficient language to express a commonplace idea." ("What am I?" vol. ii., p. 242). That this is not overstated I can myself testify, from repeated observations of the same medium. And from other trance-speakers—such as Mrs. Hardinge, Mrs. Tappan, and Mr. Peebles—I have heard discourses which, for high and sustained eloquence, noble thoughts, and high moral purpose, surpassed the best efforts of any preacher or lecturer within my experience.
4. Impersonation.—This occurs during trance. The Medium seems taken possession of by another being; speaks, looks, and acts the character in a most marvellous manner; in some cases speaks foreign languages never even heard in the normal state; as in the case of Miss Edmonds, already given. When the influence is violent or painful, the effects are such as have been in all ages imputed to possession by evil spirits.
5. Healing.—There are various forms of this. Sometimes by mere laying on of hands, an exalted form of simple mesmeric healing. Sometimes, in the trance state, the medium at once discovers the hidden malady, and prescribes for it, often describing very exactly the morbid appearance of internal organs.
The purely mental phenomena are generally of no use as evidence to non-spiritualists, except in those few cases where rigid tests can be applied; but they are so intimately connected with the physical series, and often so interwoven with them, that no one who has sufficient experience to satisfy him of the reality of the former, fails to see that the latter form part of the general system, and are dependent on the same agencies.
With the physical series the case is very different. They form a connected body' of evidence, from the simplest to the most complex and astounding, every single component fact of which can be, and has been, repeatedly demonstrated by itself; while earls gives weight and confirmation to all the rest. They have all, or nearly all, been before the world for twenty years"; the theories and explanations of reviewers and critics do not touch them, or in any way satisfy any sane man who has repeatedly witnessed them they have been tested and examined by sceptics of every grade of incredulity, men in every way qualified to detect imposture or to discover natural cause—trained physicists, medical men, lawyers and men of business—but in every case the investigators have either retired battled, or become converts.
There have, it is true, been some impostors who have attempted to imitate the phenomena; but such cases are few in number, and have been discovered by tests far less severe than those to which the genuine phenomena have been submitted over and over again; and a large proportion of these phenomena have never been imitated, because they are beyond successful imitation.
Now what do our leaders of public opinion say, when a scientific man of proved ability again observes a large portion of the more extraordinary phenomena, in Ids own house, under test conditions, and affirms their objective reality; and this not after a hasty examination, but after four years of research? Men, "with heavy scientific appendages to their names" refuse to examine them when invited; the eminent society of which he is a fellow refuses to record them; and the press cries out that it wants better witnesses than Mr. Crooke, and that such facts want "confirmation" before they can be believed. But why more confirmation? And when again "confirmed," who is to confirm the confirmer? After the whole range of the phenomena had been before the world for ten years, and had convinced sceptics by tens of thousands—sceptics, be it remembered, of common sense and more than page 31 common acuteness, Americans of all classes—they were confirmed by the first chemist in America, Professor Robert Hare. Two years later they were again confirmed by the elaborate and persevering inquiries of one of the first American lawyers, Judge Edmonds. Then by another good chemist, Professor Mapes. In France the truth of the simpler physical phenomena was confirmed by Count A. de Gasparin in 1854; and since then .French Astronomers, mathematicians, and chemists of high rank have confirmed firmed them. Professor Thury of Geneva again confirmed them, in 1855. In our own country such men as Professor De Morgan, Dr. Lockhart Robertson, T. Adolphus Trollope, Dr. Robert Chambers, Serjeant Cox, Mr. C. F. Varley, as well as the sceptical Dialectical Committee, have independently confirmed large portions of them; and lastly comes Mr. William Crookes, F.R.S., with four years of research and unrestricted experiment with the two oldest and most remarkable mediums in the world, and again confirmed the whole series! But even this is not all. Through an independent set of most competent observers we have the crucial test of photography; a witness which cannot be deceived, which has no preconceived opinions, which cannot register "subjective impressions;" a thoroughly scientific witness, who is admitted into our law courts, and whose testimony is good as against any number of recollections of what did happen or opinions as to what ought to and must have happened. And what has the other side brought against this overwhelming array of consistent and unimpeachable evidence? They have merely made absurd and inadequate suppositions, but have not disproved or explained away one weighty fact!
My position, therefore, is, that the phenomena of Spiritualism in their entirety do not require further confirmation. They are proved quite as well as any facts are proved in ether sciences; and it is not denial or quibbling that can disprove any of them, but only fresh facts and accurate deductions from those facts. W hen the opponents of Spiritualism can give a record of their researches approaching in duration and completeness to those of its advocates; and when they can discover and show in detail, either how the phenomena are produced or how the many sane and able men here referred to have been deluded into a coincident belief that they have witnessed them; and when they can prove the correctness of their theory by producing a like belief in a body of equally sane and able unbelievers,—then, and not till then, will it be necessary for spiritualists to produce fresh confirmation of facts which are, and always have been, sufficiently real and indisputable to satisfy any honest and persevering inquirer.
This being the state of the case as regards evidence and proof, we are fully justified in taking the fact the modern Spiritualism (and with them the spiritual theory as the only tenable one) as being fully established, It only remains to give a brief account of the more important uses and teachings of Spiritualism.