The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 31
In the number of this periodical for February last, I ventured to give some experiences in reference to a subject which, for more than a decade, has puzzled the researches of the curious, evoked the ridicule of the ignorant, and opened a new field of inquiry for the thoughtful.
When I undertook to introduce the subject of apparitions, in a hard matter-of-fact age like the present, I was not wholly unmindful of the consequences. I was prepared for incredulity (as a matter of course), and I was equally ready for flat contradiction and the shafts of ridicule. I own, however, that I have been agreeably disappointed. Professional conjurors and showmen have certainly continued to palm off their mechanical contrivances and sleight-of-hand for the genuine phenomena; but the tide of public opinion is at length beginning to turn, and many now condescend to listen and even examine, who a year or two ago were too prejudiced or too apathetic to discuss.
The able and logical articles of Mr. Alfred Wallace, in the May and June numbers of the 'Fortnightly Review, are admirable contributions to the literature of the most astounding series of researches of which we have any record in modern times. In these papers the writer brings down his experiences to the period when Mr. Crookes, the well-known chemist, and editor of the 'Quarterly Journal of Science,' was enabled, in common with Mr. Varley, the equally famous electrician, to prove, beyond all possibility of doubt, that the apparitions now seen are distinct entities, or real beings; and are not phantoms of the imagination, or the creations of an abnormal condition of the brain.page 40
I have already described, at some length, the apparition and some of the attendant phenomena produced through the mediumship of Miss Florence Cook.
Before again referring to more recent experiences acquired at séances when this young lady was present, I propose to narrate equally wonderful but, in some respects, different phenomena, brought about when another medium was the passive agent.
In an isolated house in a western county, the attention of the inmates has for the last twelve months or more been attracted to noises for which they could not account. Articles of furniture were moved without any one approaching them; objects were carried from one room to another without hands; bells were violently rung when nobody was near them, and many other incidents were noted, of a character to warrant the belief that the house was what is conventionally called 'haunted.' The occupants of the house are Mrs. and Miss Showers, the wife and daughter of Col. Showers, late of the Indian service. Col. Showers is now in India, on business, and the family are known, both in India and in England, to be persons unlikely to be the victims of delusion, and wholly incapable of lending themselves to anything savoring of imposition.
The unaccountable circumstances to which I refer became, in course of time, more surprising and mysterious. Messages were written on pieces of paper and flung down in the rooms in which the ladies were sitting, and in the garden where they were walking; and at length voices were heard, and notably one of a man who gave his name as 'Peter,' and told them that he had endeavoured to communicate with them in the first instance by writing. He gave them to understand that he and others would use the throat of the medium occasionally, and this it seems they do, although Miss Showers is unconscious that her voice organs are thus utilised. I ought to state that this young lady is about the same age as Miss Cook (between seventeen and eighteen), that her appearance and manner are pleasing, that she sings and prays as most young girls of her age do, and that she is perfectly candid, truthful, and unsophisticated. She knows no more about the wonderful faculty she possesses than do her family and friends, and she can have no possible motive or object in attempting to practise anything so foreign to her nature as wilful deception. Her state of health in childhood caused, at one time, some anxiety to her faintly; but she is now perfectly well.
With regard to Mrs. Showers, I ought, I think, to state that she possesses, in a marked degree, many of those qualities which the parents of eminent men and women hare so frequently been endowed with. To it highly cultivated mind she adds unusual powers of discernment, individuality of character, and more than the average of that indispensable commodity—common sense. Such a woman naturally endeavoured to solve, by all the means in her power, the phenomena which took place in her presence. One of the servants of the family is also, I understand, what is termed a medium,' a circumstance which may account for the physical diameter of the manifestations to which I have referred,
Failing, however, to arrive at any intelligible clue to the mystery, Mrs. Showers and her daughter came to town early in the present year, and because acquainted with several persons who, like themselves, were interested in the elucidation of the phenomena. They took apartments in a northern suburb, in order to be near some friends, and here I had the pleasure of being introduced to them. They had heard, of course, of Mr. Home and Miss Kate Fox (now Mrs. Jenckin), and they had read with amazement the accounts that had been published of séances with Miss Florence Cook. It is right, however, I should state that they had heaver met that young lady, and in point of fact, did not meet her until they had been some weeks in page 41 London. I mention this because I know it may be said, by the ill-natured and censorious, 'Oh these young girls got together and played tricks to amaze their friends.' So far from this being possible, they were living hundreds of miles apart, and had never met—had never communicated together, by letter or otherwise, and were, in fact, perfect and entire strangers to each other.
Before describing what occurred on the first occasion when I met Miss Showers, it may be desirable that I should state that the apartment in which the séance was held was a small front drawing-room, with a bow window just large enough to admit a table and a couple of chairs: that there were no shutters or anything to exclude, light or observation, save ordinary Venetian blinds. The curtains were of the usual damask, attached to a brass pole; but as the latter was fixed about a foot or more below the cornice of the ceiling, there was a considerable aperture through which light could be admitted into the space formed by the bow window when the curtains were drawn. I am particular in thus describing the situation of the window and of the blinds, for reasons which will be obvious here after. The back room was used as a bedroom, a heavy curtain being drawn across the opening usually closed by folding doors. This back room was locked before the séance commenced. The only persons present on this occasion were Mrs. and Miss Showers, the friend who introduced me, and myself. The fire was burning very low, and the lamp was extinguished. We sat quiescently for perhaps ten minutes, when slight knockings were heard on the pillar of the table, and subsequently on the top. The table shortly afterwards gave a sort of lurch, and, then rose in the air and came down with a somewhat heavy thud. Then came a loud, clear voice, with a cheerful tone, saying 'Good evening.'
'Oh, you are come, Peter, are you!' said Mrs. Showers.
'Yes, replied Peter,' 'I am here;' and he added, 'how are you?' mentioning the name of the gentleman who accompanied me.
Presently, 'Peter' said he would sing, if Miss Showers would play the pianoforte; and he was as good as his word, for he not only sang himself, but brought three or four other voices, who also contributed to the concert thus marvellously improvised.
'Clever ventriloquism, of course,' is the natural reply; but Miss Showers has no ventriloquism gift of any kind, and I have never heard of a well-authenticated case of a young girl singing in a baritone voice, such as we heard on this occasion.
As, however, the argument of ventriloquism is one which it is useless to discuss in an article like this, I shall dismiss it, merely adding that no one who has heard the eight or nine voices speaking in the presence of Miss Showers believes that they are those of the young lady herself, more especially as they sometimes speak in a language utterly unknown to her. But of all the voices, that which attracted me most emanated from an entity professing to be 'Florence Maple.' The accents were clear and distinct, but, to my mind, ineffably sad. I do not think that any one who has heard that voice can readily forget it. I asked her where she lived, and she replied, in a town in Scotland, the name of which she gave. She said she had passed out of this life about six years ago, after a lingering illness, and that she would be glad to communicate with her family, but was unable to do so. She answered every question put to her readily; but on pressing her to tell me why her voice was so triste in tone, she begged me not to press her on the subject. She promised, however, to show us, if possible, the face and form from which the voice was emanating.
Miss Showers subsequently went behind the curtain; and the table being removed, she seated herself in a chair, while a lighted candle, a roll of page 42 tape, and some sealing-wax and a seal were placed on another chair. The curtains were then drawn and pinned together by myself and Mrs. Showers, and the wick of the lamp was turned down. There was still, however, sufficient light to observe every object in the room. In a few minutes the voice of 'Peter' was again heard, and he told us he was going to 'tie up Rosie,' that being one of Miss Showers' names. We subsequently heard the sound of the tape being drawn up and down, and on asking Miss Showers what was going on and what she saw, she replied that the tape was being tied round her wrists and waist, but that she could not see any hands engaged in the operation. In a little time, 'Peter' called out 'Would you like to see her?' We pulled back the curtains, and found her very ingeniously tied by the wrists and waist, the ends of the tape being passed through one of the brass fittings of the Venetian blind. The seals were not, however, made to my satisfaction, and on my remarking upon them, the voice said, 'Seal her yourself.' The candle and lamp were then burning; but I could not see any figure from which the voice could have emanated. I then took the sealing-wax and sealed the tape at the young lady's waist, also at her wrists, and again at the place where the final fastening was made. We subsequently extinguished the candle, drew the curtains as before, and remained to watch the progress of events.
'Peter' talked away, and told us that he was sending 'Rosie' to sleep; but that she was tied so tight that he had some difficulty in doing so. He then sang; and after an interval of some minutes we heard the clear, sad voice of Florence joining in his song.
'Oh, you are there, Florence!' we said, and she answered 'Yes, I am here; would you not like to see me?' Of course we replied in the affirmative. Mrs. Showers then made an opening in the curtains where they met, by pinning back the folds, and a face appeared. It was that of a female, older, I. think, than the medium, and equally good-looking. The complexion was pallid, but not unpleasantly so, and the eyes were large, and seemed to look straight out, without turning to the right or left. The head was enveloped in white, and no hair was visible. We could, however, see her hands. She was unquestionably very like the medium, save in one important feature—the nose was straighter. The eyes, too, were larger. She spoke to us; and occasionally the head disappeared, as if in the direction of the medium. She said she had not materialised her body, but would endeavour to do so on a future occasion.
On subsequently drawing aside the curtains, we found Miss Showers in a trance. The tapes were tied precisely as we left them, and the seals were unbroken.
A few nights afterwards, I again had an opportunity of witnessing, the phenomena. In this case I was accompanied by a friend, who certainly did not at that time (whatever he may do now) believe in the possibility of apparitions. Miss Showers was told to go into the bedroom; and, having seated herself on the bed, she was subsequently found tied to the metal-work at the foot of it, and sealed with tape and wax provided by myself for the purpose. We then withdrew to the front room; and shortly afterwards the curtain was pushed aside, and out stepped Florence Maple, literally and figuratively 'as large as life.' She had a head-dress similar to that worn the preceding night, as also a long life robe, fastened up to the throat and sweeping the carpet. I advanced to her; and she took my hand, and sat beside me on the sofa. The lamp was on the mantel-shelf, and she said the light was too strong for her. I offered to reduce it, but she got up and did it herself. She went to the piano and played and sang. My friend asked whether he might approach her, and she at once acquiesced, without making any condition whatever. He came up and scrutinised her features, page 43 saying, Surely you are Miss Showers?" At this time I really believe that Mrs. Showers was of opinion that it was her daughter, who had been set free from for bonds, and was walking about in a state of trance. I did not, although I agreed with my friend that the apparition was very like the medium.
'I am not, I assure you, the medium,' said Florence, in her softest accents; and she added, 'I know I am very like her.'
I pointed out to my friend that the figure was taller than Miss Showers, and she said, 'Yes, I am taller.'
On this occasion the apparition returned only twice or thrice, and then for a moment or two only to the medium. She was, I should think, about three-quarters of an hour in the room with us. On eventually entering the back room to release the medium, we found her tied and sealed precisely as we had left her. How she got back again into her ligatures was a puzzle to my friend, who no doubt found a solution (as nearly everybody else would have done under similar circumstances) for the rest of the manifestations in ventriloquism, and in the dexterity with which the young lady had slipped out of the tapes and dressed herself up to play the part of a ghost!
On another occasion, when Miss Showers was securely fastened behind the curtain, and when 'Peter' was singing, and when the apparition was out in the room talking to us, the servants of a friend who accompanied me were standing outside with the carriage, so that no person could (as has been hinted) have got access to the room from the street, to help in an imposture.
But, happily for Miss Showers, as also for Miss Cook, who may have been unjustly suspected, the period was approaching for their vindication. The attempt had been made to seize and detain the figure of Katie King' at Mr. Cook's and had caused much concern to Miss Cook and her family. The former felt all the pain with which a generous and sensitive mind is penetrated at being the object of unworthy suspicion, and the latter were equally anxious to vindicate their honesty and fair fame; for it is idle to deny that, if Miss Cook had been guilty of deception, every member of her family must have been equally compromised with her. It was under these circumstances that Florence Maple' was asked, if possible, to allow the medium to be seen with her at one and the same moment. This, it was hoped, would be sufficient to disarm the most sceptical, and to silence the ridicule of the ignorant. I need scarcely say that this test was not considered by any means necessary by those who had traced the phenomena through all their stages, who had adopted, without the detection of imposture, every test and contrivance that ingenuity could devise, and who knew the character of the media. They felt, however, that as the bona-fides of Miss Cook had been doubted (chiefly on account of the similarity of the apparition to the medium), and as a gross outrage had been committed upon her, and might be perpetrated on other mediums in similar positions, it was all-important that the apparition and the medium should not only be seen simultaneously, but should actually be touched and felt. Those who are acquainted with the phenomena have reason to believe that any seizure of the apparition may have an injurious effect upon the medium, so subtle and sympathetic is the chain of communication between them. Seeing both and touching both was the crucial test, so to speak, because the phenomena are so astounding that even well-intentioned and candid persons, anxious to ascertain the truth, but, still prejudiced in favour of ignorance, and the accepted traditions of science, could never be brought to believe in their genuine character unless the senses of vision as well as of touch were both satisfied. Representations on this subject were, I believe, made both to 'Katie King' and 'Florence Maple,' and both promised that, if possible, the test should be given.
It was, consequently, with no ordinary sense of satisfaction that I page 44 availed myself of the invitation of Mr. Luxmoore, of Gloucester Square, to be present at a séance at which it was hoped that the apparition and the medium might be seen together. The only guests invited by Mr. Luxmoore were Mrs. and Miss Showers, a gentleman well known to us both to be much interested in the subject, and myself. The séance took place on the 6th of April. After dinner, we sat in the back drawing-room, from which light was excluded by drawing a curtain over an opening between the sliding doors that separated the front from the back room. Miss Showers occupied a seat on the sofa; Mr. Luxmoore, a chair next the sofa on her left; then came Mrs. Showers, then myself, and lastly the fourth visitor on the right of Miss Showers. The round table was pushed up to the sofa, so that Miss Showers could not possibly have left her place without our being aware of the fact. Presently, the voices came. Firstly, 'Peter;' then that of Florence; 'then a voice that called itself 'Lenore,' and others. After some singing (in which we took no part), we asked to have something brought to us from the other room. Immediately afterwards, something was heard touching the table; and upon a light being struck, some of the ornaments that had been in the front drawing-room were found on the table before us. We then asked that something might be brought from the dining-room, and shortly afterwards some of the dessert was thrown down! A hand-bell was then rang in various parts of the room—now up near the ceiling—now down near the floor—now near, and now far off. Hands subsequently touched us all round, and patted our faces from behind our chairs; while Miss Showers assured, us of her presence in her seat on the sofa by speaking to us all the time.
We subsequently returned to the front drawing-room and Miss Showers having taken a seat in an easy-chair immediately behind the sliding door in the back room, the curtain was drawn over the opening, the lamp was turned down, and we waited the result. Peter' spoke, as usual, and sang; and in a short time we recognised the voice of Florence,' and 'Florence' herself came out and advanced to the farther end of the room, where we were seated. She spoke to us in a less sedate manner than usual, moved about the room from place to place, and seemed immensely pleased with a fan that I bad brought her, and which was eventually found in the lap of the medium when the séance was over. As Mrs. and Miss Showers were to leave town the following day, and knowing the importance of getting the crucial test on that occasion, I said to Florence." I want you particularly to give me a test that must satisfy everybody.' She replied, 'I will if I can.' I then said, I want to see you and the medium together, as you know it is said that you are so like the medium that you must become and the same person.' Her answer was, 'I will try.' No condition of any kind was imposed. 'Florence' then went behind the curtain, and a minute or two afterwards reappeared, and, beckoning me forward, said, Come and see her.' I responded immediately, and crossing the room, stood beside the figure. She was then, I should add, taller than the medium, and, to my view, had a certain angularity of form which I had never observed in Miss Showers. She then drew aside the curtain with her left hand, and, pointing with her right, said, Look!" There, seated in the chair as we had left her, but with her head down over her left shoulder, and the right side of her face visible, was unquestionably the immobile and unconscious form of Miss Showers I There could be no mistake about it. It was no delusion. She was there beyond all possibility of doubt. Having satisfied myself on this point, I returned to my seat; but on the reappearance of Florence' immediately afterwards, I said, 'will you give me one more test to satisfy me?' The answer was, as before, 'I will if can; but what is it?' I replied, I want this crowning test: I want to follow you instantly behind the curtain; and I wish to place the light so that I can see well into the room.' page 45 'Florence' at once acceded. She made no stipulation beyond this: 'Come when I call you, and come quickly.' The latter part of the injunction was quite unnecessary. I then placed a small benzine-lamp on the sofa, about three feet from the curtain, and sat down, I was then so near the sliding doors that I could have reached them with my left hand without rising to my feet. I had not been seated more than a few seconds, when 'Florence,' partly opening the curtain, extended her hand, and said, 'Come now.' I sprang up, and throwing aside the curtain, which I held wide back with my left band, stood inside, and could see—nothing, except Miss Showers still in a trance in the arm-chair. 'Where are you, Florence?' I exclaimed; but there was no answer. I strained my eyes to see any movable object, but failed. The figure in white that I had seen a second before had absolutely vanished into air! Still holding back the curtain, that I might get as much light as possible, I repeated the question, 'Florence, where are you?' Then there came from the corner of the room immediately behind the medium the well-remembered voice of 'Florence,' 'Oh, I am here! do you not see me?' I could see nothing. 'I cannot see you,' I said; 'but if you-are there, touch me, and let me touch the medium at the same time.' I then extended my right arm until it rested on the head of the medium. Immediately on doing so my fingers were grasped by an invisible hand! The touch was rather cold, and in all respects similar to that of the apparition whose hands I had felt several times while she was in the front drawing-room talking with us.
I returned to my seat perfectly satisfied—firstly, that the apparition was a thoroughly materialised form, instinct with intelligence; and secondly, that it could disappear at will, by making itself instantaneously invisible. This latter phase of the phenomena I look upon as even more marvellous than the materialisation.
In connection with materialisation and immaterialisation, this may be a convenient place to refer to an objection taken by many persons but partially acquainted with the phenomena, and which, I admit, is not capable of satisfactory explanation off-hand. I have, for instance, heard people say, why should a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes elapse between the hearing of the second voice and the appearance of the form from which it proceeds? and why should the interval be occupied with music, singing, conversation, &c.?' The question is reasonable enough, it must be owned, although it may not be answered in such a manner as to banish suspicion from a prejudiced mind. The question has been put to the form when visible and invisible, and the answer invariably is that music promotes harmony (an essential element of success), and, that when the sitters are singing and in conversation it becomes easier to draw power from them. Whatever be the measure of belief that such answers are calculated to inspire, the necessity no longer exists for either raising the objection or supplying the rejoinder. As a matter of indisputable fact, the apparition now appears without that suspicious interval to which I have referred, and which many persons thought was devoted to the undressing of the medium preparatory to playing the part of a 'ghost.' On several recent occasions, and in the presence of persons of undoubted credit and veracity, the apparition known as 'Katie King' or 'Annie Morgan' has appeared within two or three minutes after the medium has become entranced. She has come arrayed in white, with a veil, and head-dress, and naked feet, while the medium has at the some time been seen costumed in her ordinary attire, and with her usual shoes and stockings. Moreover, the medium, when entering the room, had been observed to wear ear-rings, while the ears of 'Katie King' were undecorated, and had never even been pierced! This is certainly hard to get over; but harder still remains behind.
The apparition in question having repeatedly informed Miss Cook and page 46 her friends that she could not remain longer, or rather that she would not be able to manifest herself after the 21st of May last, some séances of a farewell character were held at Hackney in the beginning of that month. On Wednesday, the 13th, 'Katie King' appeared for a short interval. There were present, I think, about twenty persons, some of whom were absolute strangers to each other. In the course of the séance, a lady and a gentleman (not belonging to the same family, or even friends) were invited behind the curtain, and both touched the sleeping medium and the animated apparition at the same time. Mr. S. C. Hall, the well-known littérateur, and editor of the 'Art Journal,' having asked a variety of questions, was favored with a special test. Just before the conclusion of the sitting, 'Katie' threw back the curtain, and said to Mr. Crookes, 'Turn up the gas as high as you can, and let Mr. Hall come in.' Mr. Hall rushed behind the curtain, but declared that he could see nothing but the impassive form on the carpet 'Katie' had instantaneously disappeared.
On Saturday, the 16th of May, a séance very similar in character was held in the same house; and 'Katie' again assured us that, as the three years within which alone she should show herself would expire on the following Thursday, (the 21st of May), she wished certain persons who had witnessed the development of the phenomena to be present. It was also arranged that some further photographic experiments should be made by Mr. Crookes under a magnesium light. These were made on the following Wednesday (20th May). On this occasion I was the only stranger present, the rest of the sitters consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Cook and the members of Mr. Crookes' own family. The cabinet was improvised in this manner. The swab of a sofa and a pillow were laid on the floor of the library. One of the folding doors was then shut, and a curtain was loosely hung over the aperture thus caused. Miss Cook lay down on the cushion, and we sat in the adjoining room, used by our host as his laboratory. In a very few minutes, without any preludes for music or singing, we heard the voice of 'Katie,' and immediately afterwards she drew aside the curtain and stood before us. She was, beyond all question, taller, stouter, and more developed than the medium; while her hair was much longer, and seemed to be of a light chestnut 'colour. She spoke to me, and expired her regret that I could not be present at her final séance the following evening. She allowed me to feel her arm and hand, and touch her ringlets, an that I might be assured that they were real for all present purposes. She subsequently bore a stronger light, and then we distinctly saw the form of Miss Cook, but with a shawl thrown over her head. She requested Mrs. Crookes to bring her chair behind the curtain, that she might chat with her unreservedly, as she added that she would never see her again. Mrs. Crooks went accordingly. 'Katie' afterwards broke up a bouquet of flowers, provided for her by Mrs. Crookes; and made up smaller bouquets, presenting one to each person present. Mr. Crookes and others then asked her for some of her hair. Calling for a pair of scissors, she cut a ringlet for Mrs. Crookes, and gave me one about five inches long. It was then discovered to be of that colour which used to be popular with the great Italian painters, and which we see so often in the works of Francis, Raffael, Domination, and others. Mr. Crookes subsequently asked for a ringlet, but stipulated that he should be allowed to cut it himself from the roots; and this was permitted, without the slightest remonstrance or condition of any kind. I ought to add hero that the hair of the medium is short for a female, and nearly black.
The camera was then prepared for photographing the figure, and the process was substantially similar to that adopted at the house of Miss Cook's father, a twelve-month ago. 'Katie' bore the intense glare without shrinking, and I can only compare her figure to an illuminated statue in Parian page 47 marble. She wore a white robe, cut low at the neck; short sleeves, showing a well-moulded arm; and a double skirt or tunic. Her head was draped in white, and her ringlets hung behind in profusion. When she stood erect, she was observed to be considerably taller than the medium; her complexion was also much fairer. She came, as usual, with naked feet.
The figure was as I myself saw it photographed at Hackney, with the agency of magnesium light. The operator in this case was Mr. W. H. Harrison, a gentleman well known in connection with scientific and daily newspaper literature in the metropolis. Mr. Harrison is a very matter-of-fact person, and is not at all disposed to take anything for granted when scientific truth is the object of investigation.
As absolute exactitude is necessary in describing the process by which so astounding a result as the photographing of a materialised apparition was accomplished, I have asked Mr. Harrison to relate in his own words the modus operandi:—
'Many conditions had to be complied with to secure successful results. A harmonious circle was necessary, that the medium might be at ease, free from all care and anxiety, in order that the manifestations should be given with the greater power. It was necessary that the medium should not sit too frequently, and have little to do at other times, so as to reserve power and vital energy for the séances. In short all the conditions which Spiritualists know to favour good manifestations were supplied as nearly as possible on this occasion.
'The cabinet being in one of the corners of a room in the basement of the house, the light was too weak, and not in the best direction for photographic purposes. For the same reason that spirits can always handle old musical instruments better than new ones, and that the manifestations are usually stronger after a medium has lived for some time in the house, it was not desirable to make a new cabinet, the old one being well charged with imponderable emanations from the medium, of which science at present knows nothing, It was, therefore thought desirable to use the old cabinet, and to do the photographing by the magnesium light.
'Magnesium ribbon will not ignite readily at a desired moment; and sometimes goes out unexpectedly, so would be liable to cause many failures. As both materialised spirit forms and photographic plates deteriorate rapidly after they are prepared in perfection, it was necessary to have a light which should not fail at a critical moment.
'Accordingly, magnesium powder mixed with sand was used, on the principle devised by Mr. Henry Larkins. A narrow deal board, three feet long, was nailed to a base-board, and firmly held in a vertical position. A Bunsen's burner, to consume gas mixed with common air, was fixed horizontally through the vertical board, and an indiarubber tube supplied the burner with common gas. The end of a funnel was then brought close to the gas-flame. When some magnesium powder and sand were poured into the latter the stream caught fire, and produced a flame of dazzling brilliancy. The larger the proportion of magnesium in the powder, the larger was the flame; and the best results were obtained with a flame averaging two feet in length, and lasting for five or six seconds.
'As might be expected, there was more success in obtaining positives than negatives, as a shorter exposure would do for the former. The ordinary processes were used—namely, a thirty-five grain nitrate of silver bath, and proto-sulphate of iron development. Mawson's collodion. A half-plate camera and lens were used, with a stop rather less than an inch in diameter, between the front and back combinations of the lens.'
As already stated, I was prevented by another engagement from witnessing the final departure of 'Katie King,' on the 21st of May; but I am page 48 enabled to adduce the testimony of two or three eye-witnesses as to what actually occurred. The party assembled was limited to a few ladies and gentlemen who had taken an earnest interest in the phenomena from the first, and to the family of which Miss Cook herself is the eldest child. My informant in this case was not Mr. Harrison, but a lady well known in society, whose name I do not give, simply because I have not asked her permission to publish it. She says:—
'On the 21st inst., the occasion of Katie's' last appearance amongst us, she was good enough to give me what I consider a still more infallible proof (if one could be needed) of the distinction of her ideality from that of her medium. When she summoned use in my turn to say a few words to her behind the curtain, I again saw and touched the warns breathing body of Florence Cook lying on the floor, and then stood upright by the side of Katie,' who desired me to place my hand inside the loose single garment which she wore, and feel her body. I did so thoroughly. I felt her heart beating rapidly beneath my hand; and passed my fingers through her long hair, to satisfy myself that it grew from her head, and can testify that, if she be of 'psychic force,' psychic force is very like a woman.
"Katie' was very busy that evening. To each of her friends assembled to say good-bye she gave a bouquet of flowers tied up with ribbon, apiece of her dress veil, a lock of her hair, and a note which she wrote with her pencil before us. Mine was as follows: 'From Annie Owen de Morgan (alias Katie King) to her friend—with love Pensez à moi. May 21st, 1874." I must not forget to relate what appeared to me one of the most convincing proofs of Katie's' more than natural power, namely, that when she had cut, before our eyes, twelve or fifteen pieces of cloth from the tunic as souvenirs for her friends, there was not a hole to be seen in it, examine it which way you would. It was the same with her veil, and I have seen her do the same thing several times.'
I may add that I have seen the pieces of cloth cut from the tunic. Another eye-witness tells use that fifteen or sixteen pieces were cut in his presence, and that the front of the skirt 'looked like a cullender,' but all that 'Katie' did to restore it to its original shape was to bring the folds together with her hands, and then shake them out, when the skirt was found to be whole and entire as before! I do not presume to supply a solution for this or any other phase of the phenomena.
In drawing attention to the subject, it is not my desire to speculate, much less to dogmatise. All I care to do is to invite candid inquiry. But to secure this I find to be a matter of enormous difficulty. Here is an illustration. Wishing to attract a friend—a man of great ability in the scientific world, and an admitted authority on those subjects, which may be regarded as his specialities—I addressed him thus: 'You are an F.S.R., a deep thinker, and widely known for your scientific attainments; therefore, what you say will carry weight. Will you accompany me to a private house, and see a non-professional medium? Satisfy yourself by every possible expedient that your ingenuity can devise that imposture is impossible, and tell me what you think of it.' The answer was, 'I don't believe in it, and I don't care to take up any new things; but I will meet any man you like on my own ground!'
This response might be reasonable enough when all that was known of the phenomena was limited to table-turning, rappings, bell-ringing, and the other elementary, and possibly frivolous, indications of a physical power exterior to the body. But the phenomena have passed out of the realm of conjecture, and have entered the region of fact. Science may still fold its arms and stand aloof. It did the same in all the earlier developments of those great discoveries which will make the Victorian age the grandest epoch of page 49 the world's history. Had the lowly disciples of Science been dismayed or discouraged by the ridicule of the ignorant or the sneers of the learned, we should never have had the railway, the telegraph, or the photograph. Men still living can remember when travellers from Plymouth or York to London were four or five days on the road, and made their wills before they left home; when the streets of London were dimly lighted by oil; and when the man who proclaimed that it would be possible to travel with ease and comparative safety fifty or sixty miles an hour, or that the Queen and the President of the United States could converse together, the one at Windsor and the other at Washington, would have been looked upon as a hopeless lunatic!
I admit, with the utmost frankness, that what I have related as perfectly true is, at the same time, as diametrically opposed to all the researches of science as to all the traditions of probability. When I assert that two ladies and three gentlemen sit down in a room, and that room in their own house, and lock the door, and that they are shortly after joined by another individual (making the party six, instead of five), and that the sixth, in the form of a woman, talks with them for an hour, sings, plays, walks about, and does many things that they do, and that she then throws back the curtain by which she entered and shows you the living form of the fifth, and permits you at one and the same time to feel her, and also feel the insensible figure to which she points, and which you recognise as the fifth—then I say that an astounding and inexplicable fact has been established, which challenges the attention of the thoughtful, and demands all the scrutiny that science can bring to bear upon it.
I advance no theories of my own to explain or account for what I have seen. All I lay claim to is critical accuracy for my description of experiences, acquired in many cases under circumstances which would have given in especial facilities for the detection and exposure of fraud. I found none. My story, and those of others far more competent to deal with the subject, may be discredited. We care not. We can afford to wait. Time is on our side. Pacts which to-day are contemptuously denied will to-morrow be admitted and vindicated. Out of the mists of ignorance and prejudice a light will be evolved. Through the gifts in the clouds that obscure the future I think I can discern a form that, in the fulness of time, will assume the majestic image of Truth.
Henry M. Dunphy.