Preliminary Report of the Commission Appointed by the University
The Seybert Commission
Part 2 out of 4
Mr. Sellers: Are the sounds sometimes produced in your room when you
have no shoes on.
The Medium: More or less. They are produced under all circumstances.
Following the suggestion of the Medium, all present proceed through an
intervening apartment to the library where the Medium selects various
positions--standing upon a lounge, then upon a cushioned chair, next
upon a step-ladder and finally upon the side of a book-case--but all
with a like unsuccessful result, no response by rappings being heard.
Upon an intimation being given by a member of the Committee that the
Medium may be wearied, the further prosecution of the Investigation is
* * * * *
After the examination of Mrs. Kane, and after the Stenographer had left,
the Commission held a conference, and commissioned Mr. Furness to lay
before Mrs. Kane the question of continuing or closing the
investigation, so far as she was concerned. If she were sanguine of more
satisfactory results at another seance, the Commission was willing to
prolong the investigation.
GEO. S. FULLERTON,
Below is given the letter from Mr. Furness, explaining why the
investigation of Mrs. Kane was not continued. The decision to
discontinue it came from her.
My Dear Fullerton:
You remember that the members of The Seybert Commission separated last
evening with the understanding that we should meet Mrs. Kane again this
evening, if Mrs. Kane desired it, and that they requested me to lay the
question before her for her decision.
Accordingly, I had an interview with her this morning, of which the
following is as accurate an account as I can remember.
I told her that the Commission had now had two seances with her, and
that the conclusion to which they had come is that the so-called raps
are confined wholly to her person, whether produced by her voluntarily
or involuntarily they had not attempted to decide; furthermore, that
although thus satisfied in their own minds they were anxious to treat
her with all possible deference and consideration, and accordingly had
desired me to say to her that if she thought another seance with her
would or might modify or reverse their conclusion, they held themselves
ready to meet her again this evening and renew the investigation of the
manifestations; at the same time I felt it my duty to add that in that
case the examination would necessarily be of the most searching
Mrs. Kane replied that the manifestations at both seances had been of an
unsatisfactory nature, so unsatisfactory that she really could not blame
the Commission for arriving at their conclusion. In her present state of
health she doubted whether a third meeting would prove any better than
the two already held. It might be even more unsatisfactory, and instead
of removing the present belief of the Commission it might add
confirmation of it. In view of these considerations, she decided not to
hold another seance.
Afterward, during the forenoon (you know she has been and still is my
guest), she recurred to the subject, and added that if hereafter her
health improved it would give her pleasure to make a free-will offering
to the Commission of a number of seances for further investigations.
I forgot to tell you, when we last met, that yesterday morning, the 6th
of November, I brought away from Mrs. Patterson our sealed slate. It
contains no writing, so Mrs. Patterson says. During the many months that
it has been in this Medium's possession I have made to her the most
urgent appeals, both in person and by letter, to fulfill her promise of
causing the writing to appear in it. Her invariable excuse has been her
lack of time.
I Remain Yours,
HORACE HOWARD FURNESS,
7th November, 1884.
It will be seen from the last paragraph of the preceding letter that the
attempt to produce 'independent writing' on the inside of the slate
sealed by the Commission was without result.
The slate was sealed on May 31st, 1884 (as described in the records of
the meeting of that date), was placed in the hands of the Medium, Mrs.
Patterson, the next day, where it remained until November 6th.
GEO. S. FULLERTON,
* * * * *
January 16th, 1885.
The Commission met on Friday evening, January 16th, 1885, for the
purpose of examining a second slate which had been sealed by Mr. Furness
and left with Mrs. Patterson, and was now returned to the Commission.
The slate was screwed and sealed by Mr. Furness, just before Christmas,
and was in the hands of the Medium until January 12th.
[So importunate was the Acting Chairman in his entreaties to Mrs.
Patterson to bring to bear on these slates all her Spiritual power, that
at last he induced her to name a certain afternoon that should be
devoted to the task. He went to her house on the day named, and sat
with her while she held the slates in her lap. To increase to the
utmost all available Spiritual force, Mrs. Patterson's two daughters and
her brother-in-law, Mr. Winner, were called in and shared the session.
After sitting for nearly two hours, the little pencil had not made its
appearance on the outside, but could still be heard rattling inside, and
the obdurate Spirits were abandoned for the day.--H.H.F.]
The slate was secured as follows:
The two leaves of the slate were fastened by four screws at 1, 2, 3 and
4; one side of the slate was already secured by the hinges 8, 8; the
slate had then been wrapped by the tape 9, 9, as indicated, the knot
being at 4; seals had then been set over the heads of the screws, upon
the tape, at 1, 2, 3 and 4, and also over the ends of the screws, upon
the tape, on the other side of the slate; a seal was also placed upon
the ends of the tape at 5; and two seals at one corner, at the places
indicated by 6 and 7. The corner marked by the arrow (<--) was protected
only by the screws and seals at 3 and 4.
When the slate was shaken no sound of the rattling of the pencil was
heard--a pencil-scrap having been enclosed as usual in the slate when it
was sealed. The Medium had declared that the pencil was gone, but said
she did not know whether there was writing on the slate or not.
The seals were first examined and declared intact.
Then Dr. Leidy pushed a thin knife-blade between the slates at the
unprotected corner, marked by the arrow on the sketch.
Then Mr. Sellers pushed in a thick knife-blade a little to one side of
Dr. Leidy's. (The exact place is marked on the rim of the slate
itself.) Both the blades were thrust straight in--Dr. Leidy's exactly at
the corner, and Mr. Sellers's at the point marked, and neither of them
was worked about between the slates.
The slates were thus separated by the thick knife-blade about one-tenth
of an inch.
The seals were not broken by this.
While the slates were thus separated, it was noticed that the wood was
discolored and rubbed glossy on the sides of the crack.
Mr. Sellers then removed the tape, seals and screws.
The slate being opened, no pencil was found and no pencil-marks appeared
on the slate.
The rims were worn smooth and blackened at the corner where the slates
could be separated; this was very distinct.
Some soap-stone dust, which Dr. Koenig identified under a microscope as
the same with a remaining fragment of the pencil inserted (which Mr.
Furness had preserved), was found rubbed into the same corner, showing
that _the slates had been separated and the piece of pencil worked out_.
Mr. Furness then produced three slates of the same sort (with hinges,
and about 8 in. by 6.) to be used in the presence of Dr. Slade.
They were screwed up with a bit of pencil inside, in the presence of the
Commission. Each was marked on the inside by Mr. Sellers, with a scratch
from a diamond. To Mr. Furness was delegated the work of sealing them.
[As Dr. Slade, however, refused to use any of our sealed slates, our
labor was wasted.]
GEO. S. FULLERTON,
* * * * *
The following is a stenographic report of a meeting of the Commission,
to consider the reports offered by several members of seances with Dr.
Henry Slade, who came to Philadelphia to meet the Commission. As he
refused to sit with more than three of the Commission at a time, it was
necessary to visit him in sections. Arrangements had been made to have
all the members sit with him in turn, but it was soon decided that
continuity of observation was valuable, and certain members were
appointed to do the whole work.
(A record from the notes of the Stenographer, Mr. J.I. Gilbert.)
PHILADA., February 7th, 1885.
A formal session of the Seybert Committee was held to-day at 8 o'clock
P.M., at the residence of Mr. Furness, No. 222 West Washington Square.
The session was devoted to consideration of the seances held with Dr.
Henry Slade, from January 21st to January 28th inclusive.
The following is a compilation of written notes and verbal comments upon
the seances by members of the Committee:
Mr. Coleman Sellers (referring to notes):
The Committee met on January 21st, 1885, at the Girard House,
Philadelphia, in Room 24.
There were present: Messrs. Thompson, Sellers and Furness, of the
Committee, and the Medium, Dr. Henry Slade.
The seance was conducted at a pine table prepared by the Medium, which
was supplied with two falling leaves and stationed at a point remote
from the centre of the room, and contiguous to a wall of the apartment.
Upon the table were two ordinary writing slates and fragments of slate
The relative positions of the Medium and the Committee were as follows:
the Medium was seated in the space between the table and the wall.
Professor Thompson occupied a chair at the side of the table to the
right, and Mr. Furness one at the side to the left of the Medium. Mr.
Sellers was seated at the side directly opposite to the Medium.
After calling attention to the slates and the pencil pieces, the Medium
remarked that, as his baggage had not come to hand, he was apprehensive
that the sitting would not be a very good one. A brief, general
conversation followed, and then, complying with a direction of the
Medium, all present joined hands upon the table. Thereupon the Medium
abruptly started back, and, remarking that he had received a very severe
shock of some kind, inquired whether the gentlemen present had not
experienced a like sensation. The responses were in the negative.
The Medium next proposed to give an exhibition of "Spiritism" through
the agency of communications invisibly written upon the apparently blank
surface of one of the slates. At this point Mr. Sellers asked that the
table be examined, and, with the assent of the Medium, an examination
was accordingly made by the Committee; the only noteworthy result of
which was the discovery immediately beneath the table-top of openings
or slots into which the bars supporting the table leaves entered when
turned to permit the lowering of the leaves.
(Mr. Sellers here continued, without reference to notes):
These slots and the use to which I ascertained they might be applied are
worthy of special comment, as they played a very important part in all
the expositions that were made of the Medium Slade's manifestations. The
slot under the table into which the vibrating bar passed when the leaf
was lowered was an inch and a-quarter in depth. At a later period of the
meeting, when the opportunity was afforded, I took the slate in my hand,
and, from the table side at which I was seated (the one directly
opposite the Medium's position) passed it into the slot, allowing it to
rest there diagonally. Upon removing my hand the slate remained
suspended in its place, and in a position in which it could conveniently
be written upon. I may add that this arrangement of the slate is said to
be an essential feature of Slade's favorite method of writing. The
Medium did not fail to notice my experiment of passing the slate into
the slot, and, upon the occasion of my second attendance at the
"manifestations" (which was at the third meeting of the Committee),
having dispensed with the table I have described and prepared another,
he somewhat ostentatiously called attention to the fact that the table
then produced contained no slots such as those of which I have spoken. I
have a memorandum of the size of the slots. The dimensions of the table
last referred to are given in Mr. Fullerton's report.
(Mr. Sellers, referring again to his notes):
Taking a slate in his hand Slade held it beneath the table leaf to his
right, when almost immediately there was a succession of faintly audible
sounds such as would have been made by writing on the slate under the
table. A knock indicated that the writing had ceased. The Medium then
attempted to withdraw the slate, but in this encountered a seeming
resistance, and only succeeded by a jerk, as if wrenching the slate from
the grasp of a strong person who was below the table. Upon the slate,
which was at once inspected, appeared in a fair, running handwriting,
and as if written with a pencil held firmly in hand, the following:
Look well to the truth and learn wisdom, I am truly
(Continuing, without reference to notes):
This writing differed entirely, in general appearance, from the
subsequent writings upon the slate, having apparently been made with the
rounded point of a pencil held in an easy and natural position for
writing. In other instances the writings had a strained and artificial
appearance, and had evidently been made with a pencil point which had
been flattened before being used.
Professor Thompson (to Mr. Sellers): Do you remember that at the session
of which you now speak the Medium denied having any knowledge of James
Clark, and afterwards said that he did know of him?
Mr. Sellers: I remember distinctly that he said he knew nothing of James
Clark's affairs, and that, on another day, he presented a communication
from a William Clark.
(Mr. Sellers here resumed his reading from notes, as follows):
The writing was obliterated from it and the slate again held under the
table, when the question was asked, "Will you do more." An interval of
perhaps one or two minutes elapsed when the slate was exhibited, and
upon it appeared the word "Yes." The word had been written with a
broad-ended pencil, and neither in style nor character resembled the
Mr. Sellers, complying with the Medium's request to write a question on
the back of the slate, wrote "Do you know the persons present?" The
response which was made to this was "Yes, we do."
No additional manifestations by writings were made at the first meeting.
During the sitting many raps were produced on the table through some
invisible agency, and as these sounds, in some instances, were such as
could be made by simple means and at the command of a person sitting at
the table, a member of the Committee reproduced the sounds. It was the
conviction of the members of the Committee present that the sounds thus
produced were similar to the sounds said to have been made by Spirits.
The Medium, however, professed his ability to distinguish between the
two classes of sounds, and remarked that some of the sounds heard by him
were such as would be made by a person touching the table and causing it
to make the raps; that such sounds were not from the Spirits; that when
the raps were genuine they caused a peculiar sensation, a sort of
tremor, in his breast, and, therefore, he could tell when the raps were
(Mr. Sellers, aside): In other words, that none were genuine but those
made by himself.
(Resuming, from notes): The Medium, in answer to inquiries, gave a
detailed description of the remarkable phenomena said to have been
produced in the presence of Professor Zoellner--which, he said, were as
unexpected to himself (Slade) as they were to any one; that they were
beyond his control, and evidently the work of Spirits under very
Mr. Sellers here read the minutes of the meeting of January 22d, 1885,
as prepared by Professor Fullerton.
(The minutes are as follows):
The Committee met on Thursday, January 22d, 1885, at 12 M., in the
Girard House, Philadelphia.
Present: Messrs. Thompson, Furness, Fullerton and the Medium, Henry
A table measuring five or four and a-half by three feet, was used by the
Medium. It was an oval table with two leaves. The Medium sat at one
side, with Mr. Furness at the end of the table to his left, Professor
Thompson at the end to his right, and Mr. Fullerton opposite. A circle
was first formed by joining hands upon the table.
A slate was passed to Mr. Fullerton by the Medium, with the request that
it be held by him under the table leaf to his (Mr. Fullerton's) left.
The slate was held by Mr. Fullerton as requested, but at no time during
the sitting was any writing produced on the slate. Toward the close of
the seance the slate was held for some time under the opposite table
leaf by Messrs. Furness and Fullerton.
Dr. Slade, after cleaning a slate, held it under the table-leaf to his
right, in the space between himself and Professor Thompson. The slate
was not held close to the table, but in a slanting position, so that a
space of perhaps four or five inches was left between the edge of the
slate farthest removed from the table and the table itself. A piece of
pencil, broken from a small pencil--about 1-16th to 1-12th in. cross
section, was laid on the slate.
A series of questions were here propounded, in each instance the inquiry
being followed by a scratching sound, and the slate being then withdrawn
from under the table and showing writing upon it. These writings were
construed as responses.
The questions and answers were as follows:--
1. It was asked: Will the Spirits answer questions?
Ans. (as above). 'We will try,'
2. Is the gentleman opposite a Medium? (Mr. Fullerton.)
Ans. He has some power.
3. Are there more Spirits than one present?
Ans. Yes, there is.
4. Another communication which appeared on the slate was 'we will do
5. Ques. Do you move this pencil?
Ans. We do, of course.
6. Tell us if you will play the accordion, or try to to-day?
The accordion (a small one) was then held partly under the leaf of the
table, where the slates had been. It played a little. The members of the
Commission could not see it when in that position, or at least could not
see the whole of it. Mr. Fullerton, by looking under Professor
Thompson's arm, over the table, could occasionally catch a glimpse of it
as Dr. Slade moved it to and fro, but saw only one corner.
Dr. Slade then marked a slate with a line, and laid one of the bits of
pencil upon the line. A large slate pencil was then laid along the edge
of the slate. The slate was placed below the edge of the table beside
Dr. Slade (to his right, as usual) when the large pencil was thrown up
into the air two and a-half or three feet above the table.
When the slate was brought up into view again the small bit of pencil
was still in its place. This would, of course, be nothing remarkable if
the Medium's finger were upon the small bit of pencil at the time of the
Another slate was held by Dr. Slade on the same side of and below the
table (as far as I could judge from his arm it was nearly as low as Dr.
Slade's knee), and it was suddenly broken into many pieces, the frame
being at once held up for inspection by Dr. Slade. It did not seem to
have been broken against the table, as there was no shock felt in the
table, nor did the sound indicate it. It might have been broken by a
sudden blow upon the knee, as Dr. Slade's knees were in close proximity
to the place where the slate was held.
[The following are Notes of points which Mr. Sellers asked me
particularly to observe.--G.S.F.]
NOTE 1.--The bits of pencil placed upon the slates seemed to be used in
writing, for pieces with sharp edges were broken and put on the slates
and afterwards were found somewhat worn.
NOTE 2.--They were apparently the same pieces, as the size was the same.
NOTE 3.--The writing did not seem to have been done by drawing the slate
over a pencil at the time that the scratching was heard, for the slate
was partly in view, and though it moved somewhat, it did not then move
enough to make, for example, a line the whole length of the slate, as
was done in one instance.
NOTE 4.--The pencil was found where the writing ended, and in the case
of the line cited just above, the mark on the slate was just about as
wide as the rubbed part of the pencil. The pencil was rubbed and the end
had been flat.
NOTE 5.--I did not notice any difference in the fineness of the earlier
and later writings. The first communication began and ended with a
strong broad line.
NOTE 6.--The accordion was a small one, and I cannot say whether it
might not have been played upon with one hand if grasped in the right
NOTE 7.--In every case, what was done was done out of our sight, Dr.
Slade declaring that the object in concealing the slates, etc., was to
prevent our wills from having a negative effect upon the phenomena. My
own position opposite the Medium was a very bad one for observing what
was going on on his side of the table.
(Mr. Sellers here read, from notes taken by himself, the minutes of the
third of the series of Slade seances, as follows):
The Committee met on January 23d, 1885, at the Girard House,
Philadelphia, in Room 24.
There were present: Messrs. Thompson, Sellers and Furness, of the
Committee, and the Medium, Dr. Henry Slade.
The Medium was seated in the space between the table and the wall.
Professor Thompson occupied a chair at the side of the table to the
right, and Mr. Furness one at the side to the left of the Medium. Mr.
Sellers was seated at the side directly opposite to the Medium.
The table made use of on this occasion was much larger than the one used
at the first meeting. Attention was called to the fact that there were
no slots under the middle leaf of the table as there were in the other
Between the leaf and the centre of the table paper had been introduced
for the purpose of stuffing the crack, a rather large one, and the
explanation of the Medium was, 'This is to stop a sort of draft that
comes up through the crack and breaks the connection.' The members of
the Committee were inclined to think that the purpose was to prevent
them from observing through the crack any manipulations of the slate or
motions by the Medium under the table.
The first writing on the slate was, 'We will do all we can.'
By request of the Medium, a slate with a bit of pencil was then held by
Mr. Sellers under the table leaf next to him on his left, when the
question was put, 'Will you try to write on the slate held by the
gentleman opposite.' The response, 'We will try,' was written on the
Medium's slate. After taking the slate in his hand and cleanly wiping
it, the Medium passed it under the table leaf, when almost instantly
sounds indicating writing, such as were audible at the first session,
were repeated. Upon being exhibited the slate contained the following:
Paul's injunction was "add to your faith knowledge." this knowledge, has
encouraged the desponding, and given comfort to the mourner, and gives
hope to the Hopeless. I am truly
The appearance of this writing was much the same as that of the first
day, when another long written communication was produced, but it bore
no resemblance to the scrawls which were exhibited in answer to
A special minute is here made of observations by members of the
Committee upon certain features of the Medium's operations, which tended
to discredit the assumption of a supernatural agency in the production
of the slate writings. In the above instance a slate which had been
noted as standing against a leg of the table and behind the chair of the
Medium, but conveniently within his reach, was dexterously substituted
by the Medium for the slate taken from the table and the one upon which
ostensibly writing was to appear. This was observed by one member. In
another instance a member (Mr. Sellers) observed the same substitution,
so far as the motion of the Medium's hand and arm was concerned. By
certain private marks, adroitly applied, the same member noted the fact
that the slate on which the writing was exhibited was not, as the Medium
represented it to be, the same slate which had been taken from the
[The foregoing note by the Stenographer is somewhat incoherent, owing to
his unfamiliarity with Slade's seances; yet we prefer to let it remain
as it is.--G.S.F.]
(Mr. Sellers adds, parenthetically): That is, I watched the Medium's
operations specially with a view of informing myself whether the slate
used in both instances was the same.
(Resuming, from notes): The Medium proposed that the Committee should
retain the slate upon which the long message appeared. The slate was
accordingly retained by the Committee.
Professor Thompson (addressing Mr. Sellers): Was not that slate the one
that I held at the time referred to?
Mr. Sellers: It was. The slate was held by you at the same time that it
was held by the Medium.
Professor Thompson: Then there is an additional fact to be noted in
regard to it. That fact is this. When the sounds indicating the writing
process had ceased, I endeavored to pull the slate away from under the
table, but the Medium resisted my effort, and by powerful exertion
jerked the slate out toward himself. The substitution of one slate for
the other was probably made at this time, and the slate so substituted
was then placed on the table.
Mr. Sellers: That is true, most assuredly I saw the substitution, and
Mr. Furness also saw it very plainly. From his position Mr. Furness saw
the Medium take up the other slate.
NOTE.--An explanation was here made by Mr. Furness to the effect that
his knowledge of the substitution here spoken of was inferential, but
that at another period of the seance he did distinctly see the Medium
grasp an unused slate.
Mr. Sellers here resumed, from his notes:
The Medium then proposed to attempt the experiment of causing the chair
upon which Professor Thompson sat, to rise from the floor, without
external agency other than that of the hand of the Medium on the back of
the chair. In answer to the question, 'Will you try to lift the chair?'
the response was 'Yes.' Mr. Sellers, being requested to write a question
on the back of the slate near him, wrote the following, 'What is the
time?' After some little time, during which the Medium furtively glanced
at the slate, the answer was given, 'A little after twelve.'
Upon being requested to open his left hand and hold it thus extended in
a position beneath the top of the table to his left, Mr. Sellers
complied with the request, when a slate, which had been held by the
Medium under the opposite leaf, was passed across, and, after touching
Mr. Sellers's hand, fell to the floor. After several repetitions, the
slate was passed into Mr. Sellers's hand, but the experiment was
accompanied by a motion of the Medium which was evidently such as would
have been made if the Medium had passed the slate across by his foot.
[At his seances Dr. Slade wears slippers, into and out of which he can
readily slip his feet.--G.S.F.]
In answer to the question, 'Are you ready to lift the gentleman?' the
response, in writing, was given, 'Yes.' Clasping the back of the chair
firmly with his right hand, and approaching it close enough to enable
him to place his knee under the seat of the chair, the Medium, after
very considerable effort, caused the chair to rise from the floor an
inch or two. The physical strain on the part of the Medium was evident.
Professor Thompson, having obtained the permission of the Medium, wrote
the following upon the slate, 'Can a Spirit, still in the body, write
with a slate pencil without touching the pencil?' After some delay, and
frequent surreptitious glances at the slate by the Medium, the answer
was, 'Yes, we can tell.' This trial not being satisfactory, the same
question was repeated. The answer, which was longer delayed than the one
preceding it, was, 'We can do so, if the conditions are favorable.'
Professor Thompson (interposing): Do you remember the Medium's remarks
about the resistance of the Spirits?
Mr. Sellers: I do.
Professor Thompson: When he was pushing and pulling the slate, and
meanwhile looking at it--while moving it backward and forward--the
Medium remarked, 'There seems to be some kind of resistance; they don't
seem to know what to make of it'--meaning that the Spirits were making
some resistance to his moving the slate.
Mr. Sellers here resumed and completed the reading of his minutes, as
The experiment attempted on the second day, of causing a slate pencil to
jump from a slate without any disturbance of the slate, was here
repeated. A line was drawn upon the slate, and upon this line a small
bit of pencil was placed, the success of the experiment depending upon
this small piece remaining immovable upon the line. After several trials
this was accomplished. The experiment of playing an accordion beneath
the table was next made, and in one instance the top of the instrument
was thrown upon the table.
Mr. Sellers verbally made the following addition to his minutes:
The response to the question propounded by Professor Thompson was
attended with more than ordinary delay. Upon hearing the response, viz.:
'We can do so if the conditions are favorable,' Professor Thompson
remarked that this did not answer the question at all.
Professor Thompson: I made that statement in regard to both of the
Mr. Sellers: The statement, then, was, that neither of the responses
answered the question. Whereupon the Medium at once obliterated the
question from the slate, and remarked, 'Well, that is the best they can
do,' or something of that kind, or, 'They cannot understand that.' The
fact was that the Medium did not understand the question himself, as it
was purposely a somewhat involved question.
Professor Thompson: The fact appears to have been demonstrated that the
Medium seemed to have no difficulty in catching the purport of questions
of simple construction at a glance, and that a question of more than
average length, which he could not perceive the sense of, or which was
somewhat misleading in its terms, was not answered intelligently.
Professor Thompson here further explained that, when writing the
question spoken of, he concealed his hand from the observation of the
Medium. Mr. Sellers here imitated the motions of the body of the Medium
and the position of his hands at the time--the left resting on the
table, and the right hand beneath the table, near the slate--after which
the writing was displayed.
Mr. Sellers next presented the minutes of the meeting of January 24th,
The Committee met on January 24th, 1885, at the Girard House,
Philadelphia, in Room 24.
There were present: Dr. Leidy, Mr. H.H. Furness and Mr. Coleman Sellers,
with the Medium, Dr. Henry Slade. Dr. Leidy occupied the position
previously held by Professor Thompson, to the right of the Medium;
Messrs. Sellers and Furness were seated as at the former sittings.
Slates were produced and held as at the previous seances. Upon one slate
the following interrogatories and responses were recorded:
'Spirits, are you ready to work?' Answer: 'Soon,'
'Will you write for the gentlemen?' Answer: 'We are trying to do so.'
At this point the Medium substituted another slate for the one which he
had held in his hand, and almost immediately thereafter, upon the new
slate being placed under the table, the sound of writing began and was
carried on with little interruption. The writing continued for a very
long time, during which the Medium, removing his hand from the hands of
the other gentlemen, said, 'You see that if I take my hand away from the
circle and thus break the circle, the sound of the writing ceases; if I
place my hand back again, the writing is repeated.' The sound of the
writing, which had been temporarily suspended, recommenced when the hand
of the Medium returned to its former position. The Medium further
stated, by way of qualifying his statement on this point, 'If I do not
jerk it away I can raise my hand a little.' He illustrated his meaning
by slightly elevating his hand and withdrawing it from the other hands,
at the same time calling attention to the fact that the sounds of the
writing on the slate were continued.
This modification by the Medium of his original statement was regarded
as intended to cover instances in which the circle had been
surreptitiously broken by members of the Committee without any of the
results which, had been predicted. Several such breaks had been made by
the writer (Mr. Sellers) unknown to any one but himself; and the Medium,
finally becoming aware of this fact, observed that the circle might
frequently be broken a little without any effect being apparent.
Professor Thompson: But did not the Medium make that statement at the
very first seance?
Mr. Sellers: He stated that at the first seance.
(Resuming, from notes): The communication inscribed upon the slate when
beneath the table was in the same handwriting as the other long
communications, and was evidently written with a sharpened pencil under
favorable conditions. It was as follows:
I have been made happy by the advent of my dear wife into this land of
souls. The name of my dear wife is Ann Louisa Tiers, of Germantown. Now
we shall part no more by death, as there is no death in this life.
My friends, never grieve because your friends meet the change called
death, as death is but the blooming of the soul.
Mr. Sellers, in reply to an inquiry by Dr. Leidy concerning the identity
of the alleged author of the communication, here explained that a
newspaper advertisement of even date set forth that Ann Louisa Tiers,
widow of John Tiers, died on the day preceding the day of the meeting.
The advertisement had been noticed by Mr. Furness, and it appeared to
furnish the foundation for what had been imposed upon the Committee.
The slate used at the meeting here referred to was one which Mr. Furness
saw substituted, and which the writer (Mr. Sellers) is confident was
Dr. Leidy here stated that the communication now referred to, unlike all
the other communications of the Medium, which were miserable little
scrawls of a few words, was a lengthy one, which covered the entire
slate. He felt convinced that the slate upon which it was contained was
substituted for the other one which the Medium ostensibly continued to
Mr. Sellers (resuming the reading of his minutes): Dr. Leidy then wrote
on the slate the following question, 'Dr. Le Conte--are you engaged now
in the study of Coleoptera?' The slate was then placed below the table,
and, after the Medium had been observed to glance at it repeatedly, as
in the case of former exhibitions of this kind, the slate was finally
reproduced with this answer written upon it, 'Dr. L.C. is not present.'
Then the experiment was repeated of drawing a line, laying a bit of
pencil on the line and then a pencil on the edge of the slate.
The pencil on the edge of the slate was tossed violently over the table,
passed over and fell on the other side of the table, while the piece of
pencil on the mark was not disturbed.
Dr. Leidy: It should be borne in mind that that throw was not from under
the table, because when the pencil went over, the slate appeared on the
outside of the table. I sat near the Medium and saw that slate brought
out as the pencil went up.
Professor Thompson: The Medium claimed that sometimes the pencil
appeared on the side of the table opposite to that at which he was
sitting, but no such thing occurred in our presence. Would not it be
advisable, when you say it was thrown up, to add that it was thrown from
the side at which the Medium was sitting?
Mr. Sellers: In each and every case.
Dr. Leidy (to Mr. Sellers): When the Medium gave you and me a slate to
hold, he said the Spirits would make a communication. We held the slate
away from him and there was not at any time a communication.
(Mr. Sellers here resumed, from his notes): The same experiment of
jerking the pencil over the table was repeated with another pencil.
Then, at the suggestion of one of the gentlemen present, the Medium
repeated the experiment made at a former session, in which a long line
was drawn on the slate while the slate was apparently held without any
motion. The Medium then took one of the slates in his hand and placed it
below the table, when it was suddenly broken. As he produced it, he
called attention to the fact that the slate seemed as if broken from the
top downwards. As he brought it out, the Medium turned the slate over
and knocked it on his knee, and in that way crushed it to pieces. He
then turned it over to show on which side the crushing took place. I saw
that as plainly as I saw anything. He then used a pencil and drew a
zig-zag line across the slate. The pencil was worn at one end. The same
experiment, which was made when Professor Fullerton was present, was
repeated, and it was noticed that the pencil used in drawing the line
was the identical one found on the slate.
Dr. Leidy: In that part of the exhibition which purported to show how,
through Spiritual influence, a slate pencil might remain in contact with
a slate, the Medium took care not to elevate the slate to an angle of
forty-five degrees. He merely raised it to the elevation which I now
indicate. If he had elevated it a little more the pencil would have
Mr. Sellers (resuming): An accordion was then played under the
manipulations of the Medium, after which that gentleman told the writer
that he might look under the table and witness the performance of the
instrument. The writer availed himself of this permission, but, upon his
looking below the table, the musical sound ceased, and no such sounds
were heard during the period in which these observations were continued.
The Medium remarked, "That is unaccountable; there is no reason why you
should not see it." Nevertheless, the accordion did not produce any
sound while the writer was looking at it.
Professor Thompson: There is one point which was suggested at an earlier
stage of the minutes, and which is, perhaps, worthy of being recorded.
It is this. At the time at which the slate was passed to the hand of Mr.
Sellers, under the table, the Medium compelled me to sit around in a
position different from that which I had occupied, in order that, in his
operations, he could move his arms and lower extremities as freely as he
Dr. Leidy: My own supposition is that, when he played the accordion
freely, the Medium made use of a little wire attached to a hook or
something of that kind, which he could hold by fastening it to his
Mr. Sellers: His method of manipulating the instrument was readily
observable upon close attention. The accordion was a small one of the
kind which is easily procurable in the market.
(Resuming, from notes): The next meeting of the Committee, which was
held on January 26th, at the Girard House, was an exceedingly important
one, because its result was absolutely negative. There were present,
with the Medium, Professor Thompson, Mr. Furness and Mr. Sellers. Two
slates were lying on the table behind him. The Medium brought forward
one of these, wiped it, laid a pencil on it, and placed it under the
table, but without any result. He said, "We must make a circle--that
will have better effect." He laid the slate back upon the table. We then
joined hands, and, after a time, thinking that there was magnetic
influence enough at work, the Medium reached back and took the second
slate--not the first one--brought that forward and put it under the
table. Mr. Sellers asked the Medium, "Dr. Slade, will you allow me to
see that slate?" The reply was, "No, not now; the conditions are not
favorable." The Medium seemed rather embarrassed, and apparently
regretted his reply. He laid the second slate back upon the table, in
its former position, but further back. We then again formed a circle,
when he seemed to hesitate a moment as to the better course for him to
pursue. He then reached back, grasped the first slate, and with a sponge
washed off both of its sides, though there had been no writing upon
either; and then he brought forward the second slate, with the top side
upward, and washed that side, though there was no occasion for the
washing, as there was no writing upon that side. Turning the slate over,
he began washing the back of it without showing the face of the slate,
and finally laid it down.
Mr. Furness here stated that he observed, at the time, that the face of
the slate contained writing.
Professor Thompson here remarked that the Medium had evidently
appreciated the fact that he had been caught.
Mr. Sellers: That fact was plainly apparent.
Mr. Fullerton here remarked that at the seance reported by him, soon
after the members were seated, the Medium reached behind his (the
Medium's) position to get one of the slates placed near him, and
accidentally turned up one, the back of which was covered with writing,
whereupon he coolly remarked, 'That is the wrong slate.' Mr. Fullerton
added that he did not at the time think of connecting this accidental
exposure with what the Medium was then doing, and suggested that
possibly this exposure prevented Dr. Slade's use of this method at the
seance reported by him, as it would seem that none of the communications
produced on that occasion were of the sort produced by substitution of
Mr. Sellers: The methods of this Medium's operations appear to me to be
perfectly transparent, and I wish to say emphatically that I am
astonished beyond expression at the confidence of this man in his
ability to deceive, and at the recklessness of the risks which he
assumes in his deceptions, which are practiced 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. At the meeting here spoken of, I said to Dr. Slade,
'You see that we do not attempt to exercise any deleterious influence;
what we want is the truth, the simple truth, and we try to exert no
influence which would tend to impair the success of your operations.'
The reply of the Medium was, 'No, I know that you do not; but sometimes
the Spirits will work and sometimes they will not work.' We had no
writings in any part of that sitting--everything failed.
Mr. Furness: We did not have even raps.
Mr. Sellers: We did not have even raps. There was no sound of any
character; the day was absolutely fruitless of any result. Disgusted
with this evident failure, the Medium decided to close the seance. He
was asked, among other things, if he would write on double closed-up
slates. He replied that he would not write upon them for the reason that
the Spirits had forbidden him to do so; that they had said they would
not write on sealed slates, because many tricks had been played on them,
one of which was the writing in advance of foolish and obscene matter,
which, when the slates were opened, was attributed to the Spirits. I
said to him, 'Would there be any objection by the Spirits to the use of
the slates if these are brought here, opened and exhibited before you
prior to their being used?' He replied, 'I have been forbidden to write
upon sealed slates; the Spirits tell me that if I disobey them they will
not write for me any more.'
Professor Thompson: Yes, I heard that statement, that it was forbidden
to bring them or to offer the sealed slates to the Spirits.
Mr. Sellers (resuming from notes): As I have stated, the result of the
meeting of the 26th inst. was entirely negative. That on the 27th was
the last sitting. There were then present: Dr. Pepper, Mr. Furness and
Mr. Sellers--Dr. Pepper occupying the seat originally occupied by
Professor Thompson, to the right of the Medium. All the manifestations
that were made on that day were so similar, as far as writings and
questions were concerned, to those that preceded them that it is
scarcely necessary to make notes of them. Two or three rather remarkable
things occurred. For instance, almost at the beginning of the sitting,
Dr. Slade exhibited both sides of two slates to show that neither side
contained any writing, and then placed a piece of pencil on one slate,
and, covering it with the other one, held the two together between the
thumb and finger of his right hand, and placed them upon Dr. Pepper's
shoulder near the back of that gentleman's head. The covering of slate
answered the same purpose which a table would have answered, and
prevented those present from observing the operation. He frequently
repeated the words, 'The Spirits will write upon the slate.' He held the
slate in this position for some time, but there was no writing upon it.
He then placed both slates upon the table before him, side by side.
Taking in his right hand the slate which was towards his left hand, he
placed a bit of pencil upon it, held it under the table, and said, 'Will
the Spirits write upon this slate?' He then added, 'I feel a sort of
drawing, a something which seems to pull the slate down underneath the
table. That often occurs.'
I may here remark that, at the other sittings, the same expression was
made use of at times, accompanied by the thrusting of the slate some
distance under the table. The statement was that the slate seemed to be
drawn some distance over to the person opposite the Medium.
A sound was heard, and upon the Medium bringing the slate out from under
the table, a zig-zag line appeared upon the slate with the pencil at the
end of the line. The Medium remarked, 'That is something.' Then laying
the slate upon the slate to his right hand, with a sponge wiped off the
top of it, but did not show what was on the underside of it. He then
placed his thumb beneath the slates, and turned them in such a way that
the left hand, or top slate, came to be the one furthest from him as it
was held behind Dr. Pepper's head. When holding it in that position for
a moment, a scratching sound was heard in answer to the question, 'Will
the Spirits endeavor to write on the slate thus held?' A rap followed
the sound of the writing. The slates were then taken down, and the top
slate taken off. Upon what had previously been the top slate was written
the words, 'Yes, we will try.'
Mr. Furness (interposing): That was one of the neatest things he did.
Mr. Sellers: My habits of observation have been trained in this kind of
work, and I watched the slates intently during the process.
Subsequently certain raps were audible, when the Medium called the
attention of Dr. Pepper to the fact that some of the raps were made upon
the chair on which the Doctor was seated. It was very evident that the
raps were, in fact, made on that chair; there was no doubt about that at
Throughout this entire sitting the Medium complained sadly of his
physical disability. He said that he was afraid that he was going to
lose the power of his right side, that he was becoming numb all over.
The peculiar symptoms which he described will be reported upon in the
observations of Dr. Pepper, by whom they were noted.
(Mr. Furness here stated that the notes of Dr. Pepper would be read
later in the evening.)
Mr. Sellers (continuing): The Medium did very little more in the way of
writing. He repeated some few of the experiments previously made, such
as the throwing off of the pencil. He declined to play upon the
accordion, as the instrument had been broken.
At this meeting two pocket compasses, one brought by Mr. Furness and the
other by Mr. Sellers, were placed at a point near the circle of the
hands in order to observe whether any deflection from the magnetic
course occurred. No such result was noted. No change whatsoever in the
needles was observed other than that which was caused by a vibration due
to shakings of the table. From time to time the Medium would call
attention to one of the needles with the remark, 'There, one of those
needles is moving now.' In point of fact, the needle at the time would
show no motion other than that caused by the jarring of the table. The
Medium went on to say that frequently, under like circumstances, when
placed close together, he had seen two needles point around in opposite
directions. This might have been true, in the present instance, if the
Medium had placed a magnet attached to his foot at a point at which it
would have been between the two needles. Its effect would have been just
the one which he has described. No such result was noticeable during our
A large part of the sitting was devoted to the discussion of the
Zoellner experiments, the Medium narrating some of the phenomena that
had been witnessed in the presence of Dr. Zoellner. He said, however,
that Zoellner was a peculiarly impressible person, and one who had
entire confidence in his (the Medium's) ability.
Before the conclusion of the seance, the writer (Mr. Sellers) asked the
Medium if he was acquainted with the methods of operation of any
conjurors. The Medium replied that he did not know many of them, but he
always liked to have conjurors at his sittings, as they produced a very
good influence upon him. At this point the following colloquy ensued:
Mr. Sellers: Do you know a man named Kellar, who is exhibiting in this
Dr. Slade: I do not. I never knew him.
Mr. Sellers: You may, however, be able to explain to me a very
remarkable slate-writing experiment which Kellar has performed. I will
state the details of it. [Mr. Sellers here described at length Mr.
Kellar's trick with the fastened slates, and in concluding, asked:] How
did Mr. Kellar do that?
Dr. Slade: He is a Medium. He does that work precisely as I do it.
Mr. Sellers: But can he not do it by trickery?
Dr. Slade: No it is impossible. He is a Medium, and a powerful Medium.
(Mr. Sellers continued the reading of his transcript, as follows):
Then I described to the Medium an experiment by Kellar in lifting a
table ostensibly merely by laying his hands upon it, and I detailed his
explanation of how deceptions might occur, his custom of pulling up his
sleeves and exhibiting his hands to the audience. I added, that he had
done the same thing with a chair.
Dr. Slade: I do that thing, too. I will show you how I do it the next
time. He does it as I do it. He is a Medium.
(Mr. Sellers here paused to make the following verbal explanation):
I pause here for the express purpose of having the fact noted that,
being thoroughly familiar with the details of the methods of these
experiments, I can positively assure the Committee that there is no
Mediumistic power in Mr. Kellar, so far as his methods are concerned,
that those methods are as easy of solution as are any other physical
(Resuming, from notes):
The inquiry was then addressed to Dr. Slade, 'Do you know a man named
Guernella who, with his wife, gave seances?' 'Yes,' he replied, 'I know
him very well.' 'Well, how does he perform his wonderful exploits in
rappings, etc.?' 'He is a Medium, a powerful Medium. I know him very
well indeed. I can assure you that all that he does is done solely by
means of his Mediumistic powers.'
I now state to the Committee that the Guernellas exhibited in
Philadelphia some years ago as exposers of Spiritualism. They did not
expose it, but they performed experiments which, prior to that time,
were said to have been accomplished by the aid of Spirits. Guernella
himself, at my house, in my presence, in broad daylight, performed all
the feats and exhibited the phenomena that were produced at the dark and
other seances, and he repeated them until I myself became as expert as
he in performing them; for which I paid him a consideration. So much for
the Mediumistic power.
(Resuming, from notes):
Before the close of this last seance, a letter was read to Dr. Slade by
Mr. Furness, to which the Medium was requested to make reply at his
convenience; the object was to preserve evidence of the fact that the
Medium had stated that all the seances must be held under his
conditions--that if the Committee deviated in the slightest
degree from the conditions imposed by him (Dr. Slade) he would 'pack up
his traps and clear out.' [The letter and reply will be found annexed to
At the end of this seance, the sum agreed upon, three hundred dollars,
was paid to the Medium in three one-hundred-dollar bills. He was asked
to sign a receipt for that amount, but his nervousness was such as to
make this a task of some difficulty. He made many attempts to grasp the
pen presented to him, but his hand shrank from it. At last, by a violent
effort, and conquering the emotions that overcame him, the Medium
grasped the pen and wrote the receipt. The extreme trepidation of Dr.
Slade was possibly due to the unexpected displacement of two covered
slates which he had left standing on the floor, resting against the leg
of the small table at his back, and which Mr. Furness had overturned
with his foot, the result being that at least two of the members of the
Committee were apprised, by the quantity of writing on one of the
slates, that it was ready for immediate use.
Mr. Sellers (aside): I saw the writing on the slates. It had manifestly
been prepared for use by the Medium, and up to the moment of its
discovery had been carefully kept completely covered.
Mr. Furness here read to the Committee the following:
Before Dr. Slade came to Philadelphia to meet this Commission, I was
told by a valued Correspondent, an eminent Spiritualist, that much of
Dr. Slade's success in Spiritual manifestations would depend on the way
in which he was treated, and that he should be met in a cordial,
friendly spirit. As this was but natural, and as Dr. Slade's life has
been passed among extraordinary scenes the world over, which makes him
an entertaining companion, it gave me pleasure to extend to him what
little courtesies lay in my power, asking him to dine with me during his
visit, and to spend the evenings at my house, if the time hung heavy on
his hands at his hotel. He dined with me several times, and I
consequently saw more of him than did the other Commissioners. I told
him more than once that, as a Commissioner, I should watch him with lynx
eyes, and he always gave a laughing assent. I furthermore never
concealed from him that he had, by no means, converted me to
Spiritualism. [I last saw him in Boston, when, as I was passing along
Shawmut Avenue, I caught sight of him at a window; he eagerly beckoned
me to come in, and, as I settled myself in a chair, I said to him,
'Well, and how are the old Spirits coming on?' Whereupon he laughed and
replied, 'Oh, pshaw! you never believed in them, did you?'--April,
I had several seances with him in afternoons after the seances with the
Commission, when I was accompanied by my mother, my sister, and by
several friends; of course, only by one or two others at a time.
It would be superfluous to rehearse here at length what Mr. Sellers has
set before you much better than I can, the steps to the conclusion to
which we all arrived: that the long messages were written beforehand.
The difference between them and the short answers to questions asked at
the seance, in the character of the handwriting, is too manifest and too
obtrusively patent to be disregarded. In the long message from 'William
Clark' on the slate which we have preserved and had photographed,
'Paul's injunction' is carefully included within quotation marks. The
short answers to questions were scarcely legible, and at times could be
deciphered only by help of the Medium himself. (This illegible
handwriting is not without its use; it engrosses the attention of the
It follows, therefore, that, if prepared slates are to be used, they
must be adroitly substituted for others, which the sitters know to be
clean. The question is thus narrowed to one of pure legerdemain, and the
Medium must necessarily have several slates at hand.
When two slates only are used, the prepared slate is usually lying on
the table when the sitters take their seats. No attention is called to
it, and some little time is taken in conversation, and in the spasmodic
jerking caused by 'electric currents'; in a few minutes the slate pencil
is placed on the slate; no offer is made of showing both sides, which
would be quite needless, since the side which is exposed is perfectly
clean, and it is on that side which the Spirits are expected to write;
the slate is kept almost constantly and wholly in full view and but very
slightly inserted beneath the table. After an interval of waiting,
during which, by constantly looking at the slate as though impatient for
the writing to begin, whereby his sitters become accustomed to the
appearance and disappearance of the slate, the Medium reaches for a
second slate, ostentatiously washes both sides, lays it on the table,
removes the pencil from the first slate to the second, and places over
it the first slate with its prepared message, face downward, and the
trick is done. The two slates are held for a minute under the table, and
are then held to the ear or on the shoulder of the sitter on the
Medium's right hand--never to any other sitter, since to do so would
reveal the scratching of the Medium's finger-nail on the rim of the
slate, whereby the writing of the pencil within the slates is
counterfeited. I have distinctly, three or four times, watched the
motion of the Medium's finger while thus scratching; as I sat facing the
window the fingers which held the slate and made the fictitious writing
were sharply outlined against the light. And here let me say that he who
sits on the Medium's left hand, the side to which he turns almost his
full back, has the best position for observation. He told me many times
that he did not like to have three sitters, but much preferred only two;
at the third side, when unoccupied, wonderful manifestations occur,
such as a chair's elevation, or being thrown down, or the appearance of
the unsupported slate, etc. These manifestations are executed by the
Medium's foot, and lest its motions under the table should be detected,
the longitudinal cracks where the two table-leaves join, were carefully
stuffed with paper, although, to be sure, he once explained to me the
presence of this paper as necessary to keep 'the electricity from
Although Dr. Slade had agreed verbally in New York that the last seance
of the series should be in the presence of all the Commission, he flatly
refused, when in Philadelphia, to hold any in the presence of more than
three at a time.
On one occasion, when the Medium was very sure of his sitters, he placed
the prepared slate, face downwards, on the table, with his fingers
resting on the upper surface, then in a few minutes the slate was lifted
up and the writing displayed, as though just made by Spiritual agency.
Generally, however, when the writing is thus exhibited, it is in answer
to a spoken question, and the reply is written by the Medium in his lap
and the slate turned over before it is placed on the table. Manifestly
it cannot occur as an answer to a written question, unless the written
question is exposed on the upper side of the slate.
How the scratching of the slate pencil is produced when the slate is
lying on the table (I have been told that the sound is heard then) I
cannot possibly explain, for the plain reason that I am too deaf to hear
it, and I was, therefore, never on the watch for anything unusual. (Nor
did I ever hear the sound of writing when the slate was held on the
shoulder of my opposite neighbor, but I could see, and I knew what was
going on, for the slate had once been placed on my own shoulder.)
When three slates are used, the third, and prepared, slate, is either on
the little table behind him or on the floor resting against the supports
of this little table. In either case he seizes the opportunity when his
sitters are engrossed with an answer just given to a question, to
substitute one of the slates which he has been using, and which he has
just before ostentatiously washed on both sides, for the prepared slate.
This I have distinctly seen him do twice, and once when I had arisen
from my seat to read an answer on the slate, held by Mr. Sellers, I
noticed when I resumed my seat that a certain slate which I had been
watching was gone from where it had been resting against the leg of the
little table, and we then immediately had the long message between
closed slates. [This was the 'inferential' substitution referred to on
page 59 of this Appendix.] The slate which we have preserved and had
photographed I saw him take from the table at his back.
Next, as to his answers to questions. I became so familiar with his
methods in this department that I could have told at almost any instant
what he was doing.
After the question has been written the slate is handed to him face
downward. A piece of pencil is then placed on the slate near the edge of
the slate farthest from the Medium's hand as it holds the slate; of
course, as the writing is to be done under cover of the table, and as
the Medium's hand or wrist is supposed to be always visible, the pencil
must be far under the table. The awkwardness, therefore, must be
overcome of having to reach or grope after it before the slate can be
turned over, which it must be in order to enable the Medium to read the
question on the under side. This difficulty is surmounted by constantly
bringing out the slate and looking at it to see if any answer has
appeared. By this manoeuvre a double end is attained; first, it creates
an atmosphere of expectation, and the sitters grow accustomed to a good
deal of motion in the arm that holds the slate; and secondly, by
constantly moving the slate the fragment of pencil (which, be it noted,
having been extracted from those slate pencils which are enclosed in
wood, like lead pencils, is square in shape and remains stationary on
the spot to which it is moved), this pencil, I repeat, is moved up to
the side of the slate within reach of a thumb and finger; when this is
done, it is dexterously seized by the Medium, who is in turn at that
instant seized by violent 'electric shocks,' under cover of which the
slate is turned and generally placed between his knees, only once I
think did he rest it _on_ his knee, and once I think he pressed it
against the table; then he reads the question. And here he shows his
nerve. It is the critical instant of the sitting, it is the only instant
when his eyes are not fastened on his sitters, and I confess that his
coolness won my admiration. On one occasion, when the question was
written in a back-hand with a very light stroke and close to the upper
edge of the slate, he looked at it three several times before he could
read it. Moreover, it was a question out of the common, relating to the
species of a hawk and not to a Spirit, and required an intelligent and
definite answer. The hastiness of his reading may be inferred by the
frequency with which merely the initials of the Spirit friend are given
in the answer. After reading the question, I noticed that Dr. Slade
winks rapidly three or four times in a sort of mental abstraction, I
suppose, while thinking out an answer, but he always breathes freer when
this crisis is passed, and the violent convulsions are over, which
attend his hurried writing and the re-turning of the slate. His eyes can
now be fixed in turn on each of his sitters, and he can rest a minute or
two. (One one occasion I saw the slate as he held it between his index
and second finger, his index-finger and thumb held the slate pencil.)
Presently, the slate is held near to the edge of the table, and a
tremulous motion is given to it as though the writing were then going
On one occasion, when I knew he was about to use the prepared slate
(Professor Thompson will remember what I am about to relate), I
suggested that we should use a perfectly fresh pencil, so that we could
be sure that that very pencil had done the writing. I was very curious
to know how he would evade the test. The slate was held close to the
under side of the table (the new pencil debarred him from using the
double slate); when the writing was finished the slate was slapped
violently against the table, and was drawn from underneath
it--apparently with very great difficulty, and almost
perpendicularly--and the little pencil, of course, slipped off, and in
the excitement of reading the message from the 'Summer-land,' who would
think of looking for the pencil? It was so clever I wanted to applaud
him on the spot.
The other tricks, such as tossing the pencil from the slate and playing
the accordion, can be perfectly explained and repeated by Mr. Sellers.
Dr. Slade's fingers are unusually long and strong, and the accordion,
which has but four bellows-folds, can be readily manipulated with one
At our last seance I noticed what were evidently two prepared slates
resting against the support of the table behind him, where his prepared
slates usually stood. I inferred that he would like to have some
extraordinary slate writing on this occasion, and, therefore, kept a
sharp watch on these slates. Unfortunately it was too sharp, for one
second the Medium saw me looking at them. It was enough. That detected
look prevented the revelation of those elaborate Spirit messages. But
when the seance was over and he was signing the receipt for his money, I
passed round behind his chair and pushed these slates with my foot so as
to make them fall over, whereupon the writing on one of them was
I think Dr. Pepper and Mr. Sellers will recall how the Medium instantly
pushed his chair back until it was fairly over the slates and then
snatched them up, and in the most hurried manner washed them both while
turning his back to us.
Two compasses, which we placed on the table during our seance, remained
unaffected by the Medium's presence.
During one sitting, when the Spirits conveyed the slates from the
Medium's hand under the table to the hand of the opposite sitter, the
latter failed twice to grasp the slate in time, and it fell to the
floor with a crash. Each time it behoved me to pick up the slate (both
the other sitters were women), but the second time I stooped with the
greatest alacrity and looked not at the slate but at the Medium's foot,
which I saw just entering his slipper, into which it most hastily
I think Dr. Slade's personal appearance noteworthy, and shall endeavor
to obtain a photograph of him for preservation in our Records. He is
probably six feet in height, with a figure of unusual symmetry, his
hands are large but shapely, the nail of the second finger of his right
hand is rather longer than the others, and appeared in the centre to be
slightly split and worn. His face would, I think, attract notice
anywhere for its uncommon beauty. He has a small, curling, dark
moustache, and short, crisp, iron-grey hair, of a texture exceeding in
fineness any that I have ever seen on a man's head. His eyes are dark,
and the circles around them very dark, but their expression is painful.
I could not divest myself of the feeling that it was that of a hunted
animal or of a haunted man. The color on his cheeks is very bright, but
it is said to be artificial. He complained bitterly of ill-health and of
water around his heart, which he said at times he could hear and feel
A noteworthy man in every aspect.
Mr. Furness then read to the Committee the following:
Memorandum by Dr. Wm. Pepper of an interview with Dr. Slade on the
morning of the 27th January, with Mr. Furness and Mr. Sellers.
1811 Spruce Street, Philadelphia.
He complained immediately and very frequently of his right side, saying
it felt weak and numb, and he was sure he was going to be paralyzed.
Careful observation showed that the right side was fully developed, the
color of the right hand normal and the same as that of the left, and
that the right arm, foot and leg were unusually supple and moveable.
During the sitting I saw him deliberately kick my chair three (3) times
with the side of his right foot, while attracting my attention to the
scraping noises of the slate he was holding to my left ear; and again,
when soft raps were heard and felt under the table, just beneath one of
my hands, and at about the distance from him to which his leg would
reach, I saw distinct movements of rotation of his thigh, as though he
were producing these sounds by the ball of the toe striking under the
table at that point.
_February 6th_, 1885.
Mr. Sellers offered the following resolution, which was adopted
_Resolved_, That the reports of the Slade seances held in Philadelphia,
as described by Messrs. Fullerton, Furness, Pepper and Sellers, are in
accordance with the observations of each of the members of the
Commission who were present.
After a short Business Meeting the Commission adjourned.
GEO. S. FULLERTON,
* * * * *
The following correspondence explains itself:
PHILADELPHIA, January 26th, 1885.
DEAR DR. SLADE:--I think you need no assurance that the Seybert
Investigating Committee have been anxious to deal with you in the
fairest spirit of impartial, unbiased, scientific investigation, and I
think you will bear witness to their uniformly considerate courtesy
throughout our intercourse.
You know how very deaf I am, and do not therefore need to be reminded
that one should trust scarcely more to what a deaf man hears than to
what a blind man sees.
Wherefore, I want you, for my sake, and that the Committee may feel sure
of their ground, to confirm in writing what you have more than once said
to me, namely, that the Committee must conform to the conditions which
the Spirits impose; that you cannot consent to submit to any tests, and
that rather than do so you will return at once to New York; that we must
accept the manifestations as given by the Spirits; and that, since these
manifestations are the result of a gradual growth, it is impossible, in
the space of six seances, to repeat or to verify Professor Zoellner's
experiments; and, lastly, that, if on your return to New York, the
Spirits so authorize it, you will be willing, if desired, to make
arrangements for another series of seances with us of a higher order of
I remain respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
HORACE HOWARD FURNESS,
_Acting Chairman Seybert Commission_.
No. 11 E. 13th Street, N.Y., February 4th, 1885.
DEAR MR. FURNESS:--I take this opportunity to express to you, and
through you to the other members of the Seybert Commission, my hearty
approval of the course pursued by them in their investigation of
phenomena occurring in my presence. Fully realizing that I am only the
instrument or channel through which these manifestations are produced,
it would be presumption on my part to undertake to lay down a line to be
followed by the unseen intelligences, whose servant I am. Hence, I did
say their conditions must be acceded to or I would return to New York.
That they did so, is evident to my mind from the results obtained, which
I regard as a necessary preliminary to a continuation, when other
experiments may be introduced with better prospects of success. It may
be well not to insist on following the exact course pursued by Professor
Zoellner, but leave it open to original or impromptu suggestions that
may be adopted without previous consideration, which, if successful,
would be of equal value as evidence of its genuineness, at the same time
give greater breadth to the experiments. In conclusion, allow me to say
that in the event of the Committee desiring to continue these
experiments through another series of sittings with me, it will give me
pleasure to enter into arrangements for that purpose.
Very truly yours,
* * * * *
February 13th, 1885.
On February 13th, 1885, Mr. Furness, Professor Thompson and Mr.
Fullerton, on the part of the Commission, met Mr. Harry Kellar, a
professional conjurer, at Egyptian Hall.
The men seated themselves at a common pine table, 5 ft. x 3 ft., with
Mr. Kellar sat at one side of the table, Mr. Furness at one end to his
left, Professor Thompson at one corner to Mr. Furness's left, and Mr.
Fullerton opposite Mr. Kellar. The end of the table to Mr. Kellar's
right was unoccupied.
Nine slates were found lying on a small stand about six feet from the
These slates were washed one by one on the stand, and laid in a pile on
the table at Mr. Kellar's right.
A slate was taken from the pile, both sides washed, another slate
placed upon it, and both held together under the edge of the table. A
long communication appeared upon one of them (or what seemed to be one
of them), purporting to come from the Spirits.
Two more slates were taken and apparently both sides washed. One was
placed on the other and both laid upon the table in front of Professor
Thompson, one end of the slates being held by him and the other by Mr.
Kellar. When the upper slate was removed the under side of it was
covered with writing.
Professor Thompson then changed his position to that which he held when
with Dr. Slade--to the end of the table opposite Mr. Furness, and to Mr.
Writing was produced in similar manner on two other slates without the
Committee detecting the manner in which it was produced.
One of these slates was covered on both sides with the following
messages: On voyage tout eveille dans le royaume des reves et des
illusions; l'esprit se refuse a admettre les merveilles executees dans
une salle eclaire devant un public incredule qui cherche a s'expliquer
les trucs employes a deviner les--
Kellar huye del espiritismo porque ya paso la epoca de ella, y solo da
el ejercicio caracter de prestidigitacion.
Het blyfft onbegrypelyk hoe de heer Kellar die door twee personen uit
het publiek stevigwordt vast gebonden, zich in een oogwenk wist los te
[Here follow, in eight lines, sentences for which we have no types, in
Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and Gujerati. This remarkable feat closes
with the following in German script:] Ich bin ein Geist und ich liebe
mein Lagerbier--Hans Schneider.
One slate was broken in a similar way to that broken by Dr. Slade.
Professor Thompson was asked to write a question, which he did while the
side of the slate on which he wrote was turned away from Mr. Kellar. The
slate was not turned over, the written question remaining on the under
side, and it was held at the usual place under the table, Mr. Kellar's
thumb remaining above the table in full view, while the fingers held the
slate up under the table.
A moment after the placing of the slate under the table, it was
withdrawn to admit of a small pencil being placed upon it, Mr. Furness
having remarked the absence of the pencil.
The slate was not otherwise withdrawn from under the table above two
inches until its final withdrawal, and the question was always,
seemingly, on the under side.
When the slate was brought out a communication was found upon it in
answer to Professor Thompson's question.
The answer was on the upper side of the slate. [April, 1887: Mr. Kellar
afterwards revealed his methods to our colleague, Mr. Furness.]
GEO. S. FULLERTON,
* * * * *
February 19th, 1885.
The Commission met on Thursday, February 19th, 1885, at 8 P.M., at the
house of Mr. Furness, to attend a seance in the presence of Mrs. Maud E.
All of the Commission were present, and there were present also, at the
request of the Medium, several friends of members of the Commission,
both men and women.
There were in all eighteen persons present beside the Medium; these
seated themselves, as directed by the Medium, in a circle, which was
about six or seven feet in diameter; the Medium took her seat in the
The lights having been put out, the Medium drew her chair to one side of
the circle, placing her feet in contact with those of one of the persons
in the circle. Those composing the circle linked hands, while the Medium
had her hands free.
The Medium described a number of Spirit forms as coming to those
present--to one a little child, to another an old man with white hair,
etc. The descriptions were in general vague and indefinite, and might
have applied to many persons. Nevertheless, they were in very many cases
wide of the mark. Sometimes a father, a mother, or other relation was
described as present. In some cases the death of such relations was
acknowledged by the person to whom the Medium addressed herself, but in
other cases the relation in question had not died, or, as in the case of
a child or brother--had not existed. To give an instance of the Medium's
inaccuracy: Mr. Fullerton's grandfather was described as coming to him,
and the Medium, describing the form, added that Mr. Fullerton was not
familiar with it, as his grandfather had died while he was a young man,
and had had but little intercourse with him. Both Mr. Fullerton's
grandfathers died some years before he was born. Many other descriptions
were quite as erroneous.
Sometimes a form was described as coming to one person in the circle
and not being recognized by that one, was referred to the next;
described as standing between them, etc. The number of successes,
compared with the number of failures, was not striking.
Whispers were heard--_one at a time_--always at a point in the circle at
a distance from that at which the Medium was just after the whisper
heard to speak to some one in her natural voice. The whispers _were
never simultaneous_ with the remark afterward made by the Medium.
In the short interval between the whisper and the succeeding remark by
the Medium, I distinctly heard, on many occasions, a rustle of clothing,
and once or twice a slight creak of the chair, as though the Medium had
moved her body from one side to the other, which she could easily have
done without taking her feet away from those of the person she faced.
Upon one of those present inquiring why the whisper always sounded as if
made by the same voice, the Medium stated that the whisper did always
sound the same, and that she was sorry to have to add, that it always
sounded as if made by the voice of the Medium.
Upon one occasion a light appeared and reappeared two or three times in
front of the Medium, passing from near her knee up for a foot or two.
The light was indistinct, apparently phosphorescent, and passed so
quickly that it could not be examined. It was described by the Medium,
however, as a form of a child from the Spirit world.
Those present changed their seats during the seance, as suggested, but
without producing more satisfactory results. The seance lasted about two
At Mrs. Lord's own suggestion before the seance, two women present took
the Medium into another room, and searched her clothes.
GEO. S. FULLERTON,
* * * * *
February 20th, 1885.
The Commission met on Friday, February 20th, 1885, at 8 P.M., again at
the house of Mr. Furness, to attend a second seance in the presence of
On the part of the Commission were present Mr. Furness, Mr. Sellers and
Mr. Fullerton. There were also present several women and men, some of
whom had been present at the previous sitting. The circle, when formed,
was about six feet in diameter.
A ring was given by the Medium to Mr. Sellers and another to Miss Logan
to wear during the evening, with the expectation that they might be
taken by the Spirits and passed to another person in the circle, in
accordance with the unexpressed wish of the one holding the ring. This
was not done during the evening.
A small musical-box was also given to one of the women to hold, and a
zither placed upon the lap of a man. The former was, during the seance,
taken from the woman holding it, and passed to another person in the
circle. The Medium sat as before, with her hands free, while those in
the circle clasped hands, as was done on the former evening, each one
having his left wrist grasped by the right hand of his neighbor, or
The zither was undisturbed during the evening.
Touches were felt here and there on the knees of those in the circle,
and whispers were again heard from time to time.
The whispers were, as before, _never simultaneous_ with the speeches of
the Medium, which were heard just after in another part of the circle.
I distinctly noticed, on several occasions, the same rustle, as of a
change of position on the part of the Medium, between the whisper and
the remark by the Medium.
Many Spirit forms were described by the Medium as coming to those
present, with about the same proportion of success as on the former
At various times during the sitting, lights were seen, which appeared
and disappeared rapidly. They were indistinct and phosphorescent--such
as can be produced in a dark room by rubbing a match-head, or by
exhibiting an object rubbed with a match.
The lights--at least all that were clearly seen by several persons--were
within the circle and about the Medium.
Occasionally the Medium spoke of lights as without the circle, and one
or two of those present (not members of the Commission) assented. But,
as on two such occasions, when those opposite myself described the light
as above and behind me, I saw it above and in front of me, or between me
and the Medium; there is no reason to believe that they were not
deceived by the difficulty of judging of the distance of an indistinct
and evanescent appearance in a quite dark place. The direction, but not
the distance, can in such a case be readily known.
After a sitting of about two hours, the attempt to produce more striking
phenomena was abandoned.
During both seances Mrs. Lord kept up an almost continuous clapping of
hands--the noise was not loud, but sufficient to aid in hiding any
rustle of the Medium's dress, or creaking of a chair. The Medium also
At the suggestion of the Medium those present joined in singing on two
The whisper heard in the circle was uniformly hoarse.
A list of those present at these seances and the names of the ladies who
searched the Medium, are appended:
Those present at Mrs. Lord's seance on Thursday were: Dr. and Mrs.
Pepper, Professor and Mrs. Fullerton, Mr. and Mrs. Sellers, Professor
and Mrs. Thompson, Geo. S. Pepper, Mr. Leonard, Miss M.M. Logan, Dr.
Leidy, Mrs. A.L. Wister, Miss Agnes Irwin, Walter R. Furness, Dr. C.B.
Knerr, Dr. Koenig, Dr. H.H. Furness.
Those present at Friday's seance were: Professor Fullerton, Miss Smith,
Mr. and Mrs. Sellers, Dr. Leidy, Mr. Leonard, Mr. and Mrs. F. Furness,
Mrs. A.L. Wister, Miss Irwin and Miss Sophie Irwin, Miss Logan, Mr. and
Mrs. F.M. Dick, Mrs. J.E. Carpenter, H.H. Furness. Mrs. A.L. Wister,
Mrs. Dr. Pepper, Women Searchers.
GEO. S. FULLERTON,
* * * * *
May 27th, 1885.
On May 27th, The Seybert Commission held a meeting at the house of Mr.
Furness, at 8 P.M., to examine the phenomena occurring in the presence
of Mr. Pierre L.O.A. Keeler, a professional Medium.
There were present on the part of the Commission, Dr. Pepper, Mr.
Furness, Dr. Koenig, Dr. White, Dr. Knerr, Mr. Sellers and Mr.
Fullerton. The following friends of the Commission were also present:
Mr. F. Furness, Mr. W.R. Furness, Mr. J. Foster Kirk, Mr. Yost, Mrs.
E.D. Gillespie, Miss Gillespie, Mrs. Dr. Mitchell, Mrs. C.B. Rossell,
Mrs. Dr. Pepper, Mrs. Sellers, Mrs. A.L. Wister, Mrs. Dr. Knerr, Miss
Agnes Irwin, Miss M.M. Logan.
There were also present, as introduced by the Medium, the Medium's wife,
Mrs. Keeler; Col. S.P. Kase and Mrs. Kase, and Dr. Annie D. Ramburger.
The Medium, Mr. Keeler, is a young man, apparently about thirty years of
age, with well cut features, curly, brown hair, a small, sandy
moustache, and rather worn and anxious expression; he is strongly
built, about five feet eight inches high, and with rather short, quite
broad, and very muscular hands and strong wrists. The hands were
examined by Dr. Pepper and Mr. Fullerton after the seance.
The seance was held in Mr. Furness's drawing-room, and a space was
curtained off by the Medium in the north-east corner, thus:
The curtain is represented by _a_, _b_; _c_, _d_ and _e_ are three
chairs placed in front of the curtain by the Medium, in one of which
(_e_) he afterwards sat; _g_ denotes the position of Mrs. Keeler; _f_ is
a small table, placed within the curtain, and upon which were a
tambourine, a guitar, two bells, a hammer, a metallic ring; the
asterisks show the positions of the spectators, who sat in a double
row--the two marked (1) and (2) indicate the positions taken by Mrs.
Kase and Col. Kase, according to the directions of the Medium.
The curtain, or rather curtains, were of black muslin, and arranged as
follows: There was a plain black curtain, which was stretched across the
corner, falling to the floor. Its height, when in position, was 53
inches; it was made thus:
The cord which held the curtain was 1, 2, and the flaps which are
represented as standing above it (_a_, _b_, _c_, etc.), fell down over
_a'_, _b'_, _c'_, etc., and could be made to cover the shoulders of one
sitting with his back against the curtain. A black curtain was also
pinned against the wall, in the space curtained off, partly covering it.
Another curtain was added to the one pictured, as will be described
The Medium then asked Col. Kase to say a few words as to the necessity
of observing the conditions, need of harmony, etc. And then the Medium
himself spoke a few words of similar import. He then drew the curtain
(shown on the preceding page) along the cord (1, 2) and fastened it;
placed three wooden chairs in front of the curtain, as indicated in the
cut, and saying he needed to form a battery, asked Miss Agnes Irwin to
sit in chair (_d_), and Mr. Yost in chair (_c_), the Medium himself
sitting in chair (_e_). A black curtain was then passed by Mrs. Keeler
over Mr. Keeler, Miss Irwin and Mr. Yost, being fastened at _g_, between
_e_ and _d_, between _d_ and _c_, and beyond _a_: thus entirely covering
the three sitting in front of the stretched curtain up to their necks;
and when the flaps before mentioned were pulled down over their
shoulders, nothing could be seen but the head of each.
Before this last curtain was fastened over them, the Medium placed both
his hands upon the forearm and wrist of Miss Irwin, the sleeve being
pulled up for the purpose, and Miss Irwin grasped with her right hand
the left wrist of Mr. Yost; his right hand being in sight to the right
of the curtain.
After some piano-music, the Medium said he felt no power from this
'battery,' and asked Mrs. E.D. Gillespie to take Miss Irwin's place.
Hands and curtain were arranged as before.
The lights were turned down until the room was quite dim. Those present
During the singing, the Medium turned to speak to Mr. Yost, and his
body, which had before faced rather away from the two other persons of
the 'battery' (which position would have brought his right arm out in
front of the stretched curtain)--his body was now turned the other way,
so that, had he released his grasp upon Mrs. Gillespie's arm, his own
right arm could have had free play in the curtained space behind him.
His left knee also no longer stood out under the curtain in front, but
showed a change of position.
At this time Mrs. Gillespie declared she felt a touch, and soon after so
did Mr. Yost. The Medium's body was distinctly inclined toward Mr. Yost
at the time. Mrs. Gillespie said she felt taps, but declared that, to
the best of her knowledge, she still felt the Medium's two hands upon
Raps indicated that the Spirit, George Christy, was present. As one of
those present played on the piano, the tambourine was played in the
curtained space and thrown over the curtain; bells were rung; the guitar
was thrummed a little. At this time the Medium's face was toward Mrs.
Gillespie, and his right side toward the curtain. His body was further
in against the curtain than either of the others. Upon being asked, Mrs.
Gillespie again said she thought she still felt two hands upon her arm.
The guitar was then thrust out, at least the end of it was, at the
bottom of the curtain, between Mrs. Gillespie and the Medium. Mrs.
Keeler drew away the curtain from over the toes of the Medium's boots,
to show where his feet were; the guitar was thrummed a little. Had the
Medium's right arm been free, the thrumming could have been done quite
easily with one hand.
Afterwards the guitar was elevated above the curtain; the tambourine,
which was by Mrs. Keeler placed upon a stick held up within the
enclosure, was made to whirl by the motion of the stick. The phenomena
occurred successively, not simultaneously.
When the guitar was held up, and when the tambourine was made to whirl,
both of these were to the right of the Medium, chiefly behind Mrs.
Gillespie; they were just where they might have been produced by the
right arm of the Medium, had it been free.
Two clothes-pins were then passed over the curtain, and they were used
in drumming to piano-music. They could easily be used in drumming by one
hand alone, the fingers being thrust into them.
The pins were afterwards thrown out over the curtain. Mr. Sellers picked
one up as soon as it fell, and found it warm in the split, as though it
had been worn. The drumming was probably upon the tambourine.
A hand was seen moving rapidly with a trembling motion--which prevented
it from being clearly observed--above the back curtain between Mr. Yost
and Mrs. Gillespie. Paper was passed over the curtain into the Cabinet
and notes were soon thrown out. The notes could have been written upon
the small table within the enclosure by the right hand of the Medium,
had it been free. Mrs. Keeler then passed a coat over the curtain, and
an arm was passed through the sleeve, fingers, with the cuff around
them, being shown over the curtain. They were kept moving, and a close
scrutiny was not possible.
Mr. Furness was then invited to hold a writing-tablet in front of the
curtain, when the hand, almost concealed by the coat-sleeve and the
flaps mentioned as attached to the curtain, wrote with a pencil on the
tablet. The writing was rapid, and the hand, when not writing, was kept
in constant tremulous motion. The hand was put forth in this case not
over the top curtain, but came from under the flap, and could easily
have been the Medium's right hand were it disengaged, for it was about
on a level with his shoulder and to his right, between him and Mrs.
Gillespie. Mr. Furness was allowed to pass his hand close to the curtain
and grasp the hand for a moment. It was a _right_ hand.
Soon after the Medium complained of fatigue, and the sitting was
discontinued. It was declared by the Spiritualists present to be a
fairly successful seance. When the curtains were removed, the small
table in the enclosure was found to be overturned, and the bells,
hammer, etc., on the floor.
It is interesting to note the space within which all the manifestations
occurred. They were, without exception, where they would have been had
they been produced by the Medium's right arm. Nothing happened to the
left of the Medium, nor very far over to the right. The sphere of
activity was between the Medium and Mr. Yost, and most of the phenomena
occurred, as, for example, the whirling of the tambourine, behind Mrs.
The front curtain--_i.e._, the main curtain which hung across the
corner--was 85 inches in length, and the cord which supported it, 53
inches from the floor. The three chairs which were placed in front of it
were side by side, and it would not have been difficult for the Medium
to reach across and touch Mr. Yost. When Mrs. Keeler passed objects over
the curtain, she invariably passed them to the right of the Medium,
although her position was on his left; and the clothes-pins, paper,
pencil, etc., were all passed over at a point where the Medium's right
hand could easily have reached them.
To have produced the phenomena by using his right hand, the Medium would
have to have passed it under the curtain at his back. This curtain was
not quite hidden by the front one at the end near the Medium, and this
end both Mr. Sellers and Dr. Pepper saw rise at the beginning of the
The only thing worthy of consideration, as opposed to a natural
explanation of the phenomena, was the grasp of the Medium's hands on
Mrs. Gillespie's arm.
The grasp was evidently a tight one above the wrist, for the arm was
bruised for about four inches. There was no evidence of a similar
pressure above that, as the marks on the arm extended in all about five
or six inches only. The pressure was sufficient to destroy the
sensibility of the forearm, and it is doubtful whether Mrs. Gillespie
with her arm in such a condition could distinguish between the grasp of
one hand, with a divided pressure (applied by the two last fingers and
the thumb and index) and a double grip by two hands. Three of our
number, Mr. Sellers, Mr. Furness and Dr. White, can, with one hand,
perfectly simulate the double grip.
It is specially worthy of note that Mrs. Gillespie declared that, when
the Medium first laid hold of her arm with his right hand before the
curtain was put over them, it was with an under grip, and she _felt his
right arm under her left_. But when the Medium asked her if she felt
both his hands upon her arm, and she said yes, she could feel the grasp,
but no arm under hers, though she moved her elbow around to find it--she
felt a hand, but not an arm, and at no time during the seance did she
find that arm.
(Taken from notes made during the seance and immediately after it.)
GEO. S. FULLERTON,
N.B.--It should be noted that both the Medium and Mr. Yost took off
their coats before being covered with the curtain. It was suggested by
Dr. Pepper that this might have been required by the Medium as a
precaution against movements on the part of Mr. Yost. The white
shirt-sleeves would have shown against the black background.
* * * * *
December 29th, 1885.
There was a meeting of The Seybert Commission this evening, at the house
of Mr. Furness, on Washington Square, to investigate some
Materializations promised by the Mediums, Dr. Rothermel and Mr. Powell.
There were present Mr. Furness, Dr. Leidy, Professor Thompson, Dr. S.
Weir Mitchell, Dr. White, Dr. Knerr, Mr. Fullerton, Colonel Kase, Mr.
Frank Furness, Mrs. J. Dundas Lippincott, Mrs. Dr. Pepper, Mrs. A.L.
Wister, and a number of others.
The Mediums arrived with quite a bundle of apparatus, and stretched
their curtain where Mr. Keeler had his, across the corner of the parlor,
from the door leading into the hall to the edge of the window. The
curtain was similar to that of Mr. Keeler in its general character, and,
as in that case, the whole corner was draped in black. The shape of the
Cabinet was triangular.
The Mediums said it was impossible to produce materialized forms as they
had expected, and proceeded to give much the same sort of a seance as
Mr. Keeler's--in this case, however, the hands of the Medium covered by
the curtain being fastened with tape, instead of being held.
The arrangement of the curtain, positions of the Mediums, and the
positions of the spectators were as indicated.
X Dr. Rothermel--a curtain at his back and one in front of him, his head
through a hole in the upper part of the outer flap of the double
Y Mr. Powell.
* * * Spectators.
On table (2) was a music-box, and on table (1), within the Cabinet,
bells, a zither, etc.]
The lights were all extinguished but one, and that one was prevented
from throwing light on the Medium by a shade placed upon one side of
it--it was turned low. The light was not so good as during Mr. Keeler's
Before the lights were put out, Dr. White was asked to tie the Medium,
and Mrs. Lippincott to sew the ends of the ribbon and tape with which he
A ribbon was tied around each leg above the knee, and the ends sewed to
his trowsers. A bit of black tape was then passed under the ribbon and
tied around the wrist, the ends being knotted and sewed together by Mrs.
Lippincott. His right hand was thus fastened to his right leg, and his
left hand to his left leg; though he still had some freedom of motion,
and could easily reach one hand with the other.
Dr. Rothermel was then placed as indicated, behind the outer curtain,
and the lights extinguished as described.
He asked for a drink of water, which was given him by Mr. Powell, who
stood directly in front of him while he drank it, and hid him from the
Then the zither played, a cap was thrown out over the curtain, a hand
(to the right of the Medium) was shown over the curtain.
Bells were rung, papers thrown out, a drum accompaniment to the piano
played, as by Mr. Keeler, and the drumsticks thrown out.
Mr. Powell wet in a glass some handkerchiefs with water, and passed them
over the curtain, they were passed out with a message written on them in
indelible ink. This could easily have been done with an indelible
pencil. (The small table within the curtain was within easy reach of the
right hand of the Medium, had it been free, and could have been used for
The music-box on table (2) was set off--was rattled several times. (It
could have been done by the Medium's left hand if it were free.)
The person, to whom each of the above-mentioned handkerchiefs was to be
returned, was indicated by raps from the Spirit. (The Spirit was in
error in returning handkerchiefs to Dr. Mitchell and Mr. Fullerton.)
The zither was put out at the right and left hand lower corners of the
curtain. (It could have been done by the Medium, were his hands free.)
The Medium professed to be then controlled by the Spirit of a young
girl--Emma Hirsch. He spoke in an unnatural and squeaky voice, but
occasionally lapsed into his natural voice. The Spirit declared the
Medium unconscious, but refused to allow any medical examination of his
The Mediums were then asked to allow Dr. Rothermel's hands to be
examined. After a little delay, the curtain was folded back and the
Mr. Fullerton was permitted to examine them by the light of a match
only, and very hastily. They did not allow a candle, which had been
lighted, to be brought near. As Mr. Fullerton approached to examine the
knots, Mr. Powell came close and seemed very much afraid they would be
touched. He kept reiterating, "Don't touch them!" "Don't touch them!"
"It would be very dangerous!" The examination was hasty and
unsatisfactory, as Mr. Powell and Dr. Rothermel both said that he (the
latter) could endure it only a moment. Hasty as it was, it showed that
the knots, which had been on top of the wrists, were now underneath; the
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