Preliminary Report of the Commission Appointed by the University
The Seybert Commission

Part 4 out of 4

I am in a normal (not trance) state, but unconscious of the

My hand is moved to write from right to left (backwards),
independent of my will.

By holding the written side up to the light, the answer can be

The spirit-letters should be SECURELY sealed, addressed to the
spirit, giving his or her name in full, and signed by the writer's
name in full; but no address on the envelope.

When left open they cannot be answered, my agency being efficient
only when my mind is passive, and blank to both questions and

Put your questions clearly, directly, briefly. The mixed and many
kinds defeat the object of the investigator.

I have my photograph for sale, exhibiting my Spirit Guide's hand
and arm, or form of control; taken while answering a sealed

[The terms here follow, with honorable notification that the money is
returned in all cases when the letters are not answered.]

It will be noted that this Medium's 'Spirit-guide' requires the names in
full of both Spirit and writer; I was, therefore, forced to select a
Spirit who knew not only me and my ways, but also the high value that is
placed on that skull. Mindful that eminent Spiritual authority had
pronounced this skull to be that of a colored woman, I decided, after
deliberation, to address the Spirit of W---- H----, a colored servant,
who had lived over forty years in one family a faithful, blameless life,
and who, when he died, carried with him the respect and regards of the
entire household, and whose widow and daughters still survive in honest,
humble life, and to whose ears this apparent freedom with their
husband's and father's name will never reach. Accordingly, the following
note was addressed to the Spirit world:

'Dear W---- H----. Can you tell me anything about the owner, when alive,
of the skull here in the Library? You remember how anxious I have always
been to have my ignorance on this score enlightened. Have you any
message to send to your wife, M---- F----? Are you happy now? Your old
friend, Horace Howard Furness.'

This letter was put in an envelope, which was gummed and sealed with
five simple seals, without the impenetrable stitches of silk, and
enclosed with the fee to Mr. Flint. It was received again in a few days
with this note:--'Dear Sir--I gave your sealed Spirit-letter three
sittings and regret to state that I have been unable to get an answer.
My Guide at each sitting wrote and said, the Spirit called upon is not
present to dictate an answer.' The fee was also returned.

An examination of the envelope by cutting at the edges, as in the
previous experiment, showed that the 'Spirit arm' of the Guide of Mr.
Flint had not the nerve of Dr. Mansfield. I was at a loss to know why it
stopped; it was going along in the removal of the seals very nicely; to
be sure the paper was tearing perilously near where the rent could be
detected from the outside, but with only a little more of Dr.
Mansfield's pluck, and the Spirit of W---- H---- would have been
present, and the fee pocketed. However, from whatever cause, whether
fright or repentance, the 'flighty purpose was o'ertook,' and the Medium
supposed that a little mucilage would 'clear him of the deed.'

Next I turned to Mrs. Eleanor Martin, in Columbus, Ohio. Without writing
a fresh letter, I sent her the same letter to W---- H----, which had
been returned to me from Mr. Flint, and the envelope was sealed in the
simple easy way with five seals, but no silk stitches.

To this came the following response:

'Columbus, Ohio, March 25th, '85.

... Please find enclosed your sealed letter, also the messages, and my
terms. I learn from the messages, your letter was written upon the
Spiritual topic. My terms being $1.00. But in your case I find the
messages are at a greater length than many and according to request of
the Spirit "Belle" I paint the little white rose as her nature. Most
truly, Eleanor Martin.

First message, written by one of my Guides in Spirit for the following


In earth life I was tall and fair
With jet black eyes and golden hair
Eyes that sparkled with mirth and song
And whose hair in curls one yard long.

Ah but many sad years ago
My life was burdened with woe
But the seens [_sic_] through which I passed
Are now with gladness overcast.

I was born in your earth to await
The coming of a cruel fate
Yes, I a true and loving wife
But mine was a sad darkened life.

Oh a life which seemed to last
To me the future, as the past,
And as the lone hours drifted by
My only prayer, Oh could I die.

Cruel is the assassins hand
Yet so many are in your land
Day by day as a fearful flood
Hearts have flowed in tears of blood.

My own the pain, I could not tell
But I can say I know full well
My soul ne'er found sweet peace one day
And with earth I could no longer stay.

My form was sold to doctors three
So you have all that's left of me
I come to greet you in white mull
You that prizes my lonely skull.

I can cause you many bright hours
Strew your path in purest flowers
For your kindness tendered me
I will _always_ guard and guide thee.

You may call me your Sister Belle
My other name I ne'er can tell
They tell me it is for the best
To let earth's troubles be at rest.

Tis _I_ who have often raped [_sic_]
In your quiet room have taped [_sic_]
And have impressed on your mind
Many inquiries of me so kind.

By Blind Harry for a beautiful lady who gives the name Belle.


To my Dear friend Horace

Horace you wonder if all is well
Yes, I'm more happy than I can tell
For sorrow and trouble does not last
But like a sweet dream goes gliding past
In a smooth path of eternal day
Where dawns for each a perpetual May.

Dear M---- tell her, and family too
That I am ever to them most true
And I daily guide her tender feet
Where'er she goes upon the street
That she has my love forever more
I understand her more than before.

Oh! yes this bright and eternal space
Fills each true soul with love and grace
There is nothing like earth's crimes so vile
No frown wreathes the face but a sweet smile
And which glides along, to one and all
Greeting old, and young, gay, and small.

The bright spirit world is everywhere
And to each is appointed some care
To guide earth's children on their way
Amid the poor, as well as the gay
We dwell in fields of labor and love
Guiding thousands in true relms [_sic_] above.

Many things I would love to rehearse
Which would be written for me in verse
But so many are here to await
Their joyous messages to relate
Many friends with me are ever near
To guide our brother Horace dear.--

By Blind Harry.

For a gentleman who gives his name W---- H----.'

The sealed envelope scarcely needed to be opened at the back for
interior inspection; its exterior bore ample and all-sufficing evidence
that the seals had been broken, and the gum softened; the fingers which
had again pressed down the gummed edge were not as unsullied as 'Sister
Belle's' white rose.

This communication from the Spirit world gave me pause. Here was food
for reflection. It settled many points in dispute among the scientific
Ghosts. First: they were all right on the question of sex; but Hare,
Combe and Cornelia Winnie were wrong as to color. Sister Belle is not a
negress, her hair is not black and in kinks, it is golden, and its curls
are three feet in length, moreover, a _white_ rose is her emblem. And
what a sad domestic tragedy have I not here unearthed. In reading
between the lines of these verses we learn that what darkened the life
of this true and loving woman was a mercenary husband, and that this
husband survived her, and in his unhallowed greed sold her body, and
this, too, at so exorbitant a price, that it required the united purses
of three doctors to induce him to close the bargain.

Secondly: by the message from W---- H----, that most sedate and
respectful of all respectful colored servants, the moralist may learn
anew the truth that Death is a leveller of all distinctions. Not even
when the Emperor Charlemagne appeared at a Materializing Seance in a
dress-coat and standing collar, and apologetically remarked that 'Kings
leave their ermine, sir, at the door of the tomb,' not even then was
this great truth driven so profoundly home as when W---- H---- greeted me
by my Christian name, and hailed me 'brother.'

Need it be added that I gratefully remitted to Medium Number Three a
double fee, and do yet consider myself many times her debtor? Her
gratitude to me found expression in another outburst of song.

Had the identity of the original owner of the skull been my sole object,
I might well have rested content. I had found the owner, and she had
claimed her own. She was 'Sister Belle,' and confessed to that rare
combination of golden hair with black eyes, like Lady Penelope Rich, Sir
Philip Sydney's first love. But my duty as a member of this Commission
compelled me to complete my investigations, and make application to the
fourth and last Medium for answering Sealed Letters.

As I have stated, this Medium is also a woman, and resides in
Massachusetts. Her circular directs the sealed letters to be 'well
sealed or stitched, so that they may not be opened until returned.'

To this Medium, Mrs. Eliza A. Martin, Oxford, Mass., was sent the same
letter to W---- H---- that had been sent to her predecessor, of the same
name, in Columbus, and it was put in an envelope, merely gummed and
sealed, without the silk stitches.

Within a few days I received the following note, enclosing my sealed
envelope: 'A message awaits your order from W---- H----. Please state if
you recognize Mrs. M.F.H.--Several friends came and that name was
mentioned.... There are some words in an unknown tongue.'

The minute that I looked at the returned envelope, I felt like standing
uncovered, as in the presence of genius, a genius before which Mediums
One, Two and Three paled. Nothing could excel the unsullied virginity of
the seals, or of the gummed spaces between them. I felt that I must
proceed with the utmost caution. With a very sharp penknife I then began
to cut the edge of the envelope at one end. Scarcely had the knife been
drawn very slowly more than the half of an inch before it became
manifest that the edge of the envelope presented more resistance than
the simple fold of paper would make. I stopped and examined the severed
edges. Very delicate but very distinct traces were visible of a thin
mucilage, perhaps of rice-water or of diluted gum-tragacanth. How
exquisite and how light are the touches of ethereal, Spiritual fingers!
After all the trouble with my seals, when, emulating Dr. Watt's _Busy
Bee_, so neat I spread my wax,' it was beginning to dawn upon me that
clairvoyant eyes, quite as much as our own, require Heaven's broad
sunshine on black ink and white paper.

The transmission of the fee brought in a few days the following:

'Dictated by the Spirit of W---- H----.

To H.H. Furness. I found things very different here from what I
expected. I think that is almost the universal experience. The half has
not been told, nor can it ever be, for no language known to humanity can
convey any definite knowledge of the mysteries of the Spiritual Life.

I remain the same toward you and all my earthly friends. Am with you
frequently. Was present in your Library with you one day recently. I
send my love to M---- F---- and to all others who knew me in earth-life.

A friend whom we both know and respect will pass over to this side
before long.

Will come to you again.'

I cannot but think that all will agree in estimating this communication,
with its adroit generalization, and in its general tone as superior to
any thus far received. On another sheet of paper was written:

'There is a Spirit Friend present, who gives the name of Marie St.
Clair. Earth-life had not much pleasure for her, and a course of
dissapation [_sic_] and sin resulted in an untimely death. Born of
French parentage, and inheriting some of the peculiar characteristics of
that people might perhaps furnish some excuse. This Spirit says
furthermore, you have something which once belonged to her in your

"Behold this ruin, 'tis a skull
Once of etherial spirit full--"
"Par quel ordre du Ciel, que je ne puis compendre
Vous dis-je plus que je ne dois?"

Here is evidently 'a spirit of no common rate,' of whom we might well
desire further acquaintance, albeit at the cost of losing golden-haired,
black-eyed Sister Belle. But why should we talk of 'loss?' If, as Banquo
says, 'there's husbandry in Heaven,' why should we not in the
'Summer-land' find one and the same skull, with frugal economy, given to
two owners?

Desirous of submitting the mother-wit of this Medium to the test of
stitched envelopes, I wrote the following:--'Is Marie St. Clair pleased
in having her skull carefully treasured here in my Library? Does it
gratify her, as a Spirit, that it is mounted on black marble? Does she
ever hover over it?'

This was placed in an envelope, gummed, and sealed with five seals in
the ordinary, easy-going way, and marked No. 1.

The very same questions were repeated on another piece of paper and put
in an envelope, which was stitched securely with silk, the stitches
passing through both the envelope and the paper, and carefully concealed
under the sealing wax. This was marked No. 2, and in the note
accompanying these two envelopes, the Medium was requested to sit with
No. 1 first. The Test was the same as that to which Dr. Mansfield had
been subjected, and to which he had succumbed.

The mail soon returned both envelopes, with this note:--'The reply comes
to us in the affirmative to both envelopes. There is quite a
communication for you from same Spirit Friend.'

A close examination of the edges of the envelopes soon revealed the edge
at which they had been opened and closed again. That edge has been
preserved intact for future verification, if required, and the envelopes
were opened by cutting the other edges. The seals had not been removed;
as, in fact, there was no need of removing them. The paper containing
the questions had not been extracted from No. 2; it still remained
firmly stitched to the front of the envelope. Yet the Medium had
evidently read it. Her words are 'the reply comes in the affirmative to
both envelopes,' which is a good, fair answer. I was puzzled, it must be
confessed. Suddenly it occurred to me to try how far one could look into
the contents of the paper, supposing the end of the envelope to be open.
I tried it, and lo! enough can be easily read to make out that No. 2 is
a repetition of No. 1. The needle had missed taking up all the folds of
the paper!

The communication from Marie St. Clair, which accompanied these
envelopes, runs thus:--'To H.H. Furness. Your kindly nature has often
drawn the Spirit of Marie to your side. I consider myself indebted to
you for certain acts which you will understand. Not that the poor
inanimate thing which you have so kindly treated, is of itself of much
account, but your kindness has often drawn me to your side in moments
when you little dreamed I were near. Had I met in material existence one
like yourself my past might have been far different. In this beautiful
life, the sources and courses of all earthly misfortunes and sins appear
to us like a figure seen in a dream. The lowest plane of Spiritual life
is as much superior to earthly existence as sunlight is superior to
starlight. From Marie St. Clair. Please inform Mrs. Martin why you so
carefully preserved the skull, and where you obtained it, and all you
know about it, and oblige yours truly, E.A. Martin. There is an acrostic
upon your name waiting for you here from Marie.'

If the fair and frail Marie appears somewhat cautious in direct
allusions to her skull, and to her 'earth-life,' it is certainly to her
credit that she seems to have retained no taint of mercenary greed. She
made no demand or reference to a fee, and a second letter had to be sent
to her Medium to learn the amount of my debt. This is her reply:--'Your
kind favour came duly to me, and as your message to your Spirit Friend
was delivered previously, that is, as soon as it was written, I had no
further effort to make than to convey the following to you:

'Amants, heureux amants, voulez-vous voyager! Que ce soit aux rives

Patience, je n'en ai pas quand je suis si pres et si loin de vous.

Ah! tout ce qu'il y a dans le coeur de crainte, de douleur, de
desespoir, j'ai tout devine; tout souffert, je puis tout exprimer
maintenant surtout la joie. Adieu! Marie St. Clair.'

Here end my investigations into the power of Spirits to answer sealed

In every instance the envelopes had been opened and reclosed; it is
therefore scarcely necessary to add that every instance has borne the
stamp of Fraud.

There is yet one other dark chapter, perhaps the darkest of all, which
my duty compelled me to read.

I began with Dr. Mansfield, in Boston; let me end with him there.

In addition to the answering of sealed letters sent to him by mail, this
Medium exercises his Mediumistic powers on questions propounded to him,
or rather to the Spirits through him, at his own home.

His method of work, as described by several highly intelligent
observers, is somewhat as follows:--There are two tables in the room of
seance, at one of which sits the Medium, at the other the visitor. The
visitor at his table writes his question in pencil at the top of a long
slip of paper, and, after folding over several times the portion of the
slip on which his question is written, gums it down with mucilage and
hands it to the Medium, who thereupon places on the folded and gummed
portion his left hand, and in a few minutes with his right hand writes
down answers to the concealed questions; these answers are marvels of
pertinency, and prove beyond a cavil the Clairvoyant or Spiritual powers
of the Medium. So remarkable are the results of this phase of
Mediumship, that through them and through the high standing and
intelligence of those who believe in him, this particular Medium is a
tower of Spiritualistic strength. Examine my informants as narrowly as
possible, there appeared to be no possibility of fraud. The impression
had gradually deepened in my mind that here is an instance of genuine
Spiritual power. But the fraudulent character of his dealings with the
sealed letters made me fear that _falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus_.

On the 14th of May, 1885, I called on Dr. Mansfield at his house, No. 28
Dartmouth Street, and was ushered into the second story front room--a
bedroom. There were, I think, three front windows looking on the street;
at the farthest was the Medium's table, so placed sideways to the
window, and close to it, that the full light fell on the Medium's left
hand, as he sat at it, and faced the middle of the room. In front of the
Medium, as he sat at the table with his back to the wall, were the usual
writing materials, lead pencils and mucilage bottle, and beyond them, on
the edge of the table farthest from the Medium, and between him and the
rest of the room, was a row of books, octavos, etc., extending the whole
length of the table and terminating in a tin box, like a deed box, with
pamphlets on it. When the Medium sits at his table, this row of books is
between him and his visitor. The table for the visitor is a small one,
near one of the other windows and six or seven feet from the Medium. On
this table were a number of strips of paper and a pencil.

The Medium, who did not ask my name, bade me take a seat at the small
table and write my question on one of the strips of paper, and then to
fold down the paper two or three times.

I sat down and wrote, "Has Marie St. Clair met Sister Belle in the other
world?" I then folded that portion of the strip of paper down three
times, and told the Medium that it was ready for the mucilage; he came
over from his table at once with a brush of mucilage, and spread it
abundantly under the last fold. Then, taking the strip between his thumb
and forefinger, he walked with it back to his table, keeping it in my
sight all the time. As soon as he took his seat and laid the strip on
his table before him, I rose and approached his table, so as to keep my
paper still in sight; _the row of books entirely intercepted my view of
it_. The Medium instantly motioned to me to return to my seat, and, I
think, told me to do so. I obeyed, and as I did so could not repress a
profound sigh. Why had no one ever told me of that row of books? The
Medium did not sit in statue-like repose, but moved his body much, and
his arms frequently; his hands I could not see, hidden as they were,
behind the row of books. After a minute or two the Medium looked up and
said, 'I don't know whether I can get any communication from this
Spirit,' a remark which a long experience with Slate-Writing Mediums has
taught me to regard as a highly favorable omen, and as an indication
that they have read the question and are now about to begin the little
game, in which I always take much interest, of experiencing great
difficulty in obtaining the 'rapport,' as they term it. Dr. Mansfield
frowned, shook his head and assumed an air of great doubt and
perplexity. I was certain that there would be now an ostentatious
display of the strip of paper, and sure enough, in a minute more the
Medium, strip in hand, came over to my table, and shook his head
ominously. He placed his left hand on the portion of the strip
containing my question, and began tapping on it with his forefinger.
'Pray, tell me,' I said, 'is that motion of your forefinger voluntary or
involuntary?' 'It's my telegraph to 'em,' he replied, 'getting 'em to
come.' 'I don't want to weary you,' I rejoined, 'but if that tapping
will bring them, _do_ keep it up! I cannot tell you how anxious I am to
hear from this Spirit.' He paused, and then made some marks, like
cabalistic signs, which are still to be seen on the paper. Then the
tapping was resumed. Then more cabalistic signs were made. At last he
said, 'Put your left foot against mine, and your left knee against mine,
and hook your forefinger into mine, and pull hard.' I did so. 'Stop,' he
cried, 'is it Maria?' 'Yes,' I replied, 'that's it, she is called
"Marie." It's Marie!' 'I have to go by the sound,' he rejoined. We then
pulled forefingers again. 'Stop,' he cried, 'is there a "Saint" about
it?' 'Yes,' I answered, 'St. is the first part of the next name! I have
so longed to have her come to me.' Dr. Mansfield arose, gathered up the
strip and returned to his table. I could go now unopposed and stand by
him while he wrote the following: 'I am with you my dear Bro but too
xcited to speak for a moment have patience brother and I will do the
best I can do to control. Your sister

Marie St. Clair.'

The change in kinship, and its novelty, staggered me somewhat; clearly
they manage things differently in the 'Summer-land.' However, I mastered
my emotion. 'And now,' I said, 'for the great question,' and was going
hastily to my table to write it. 'Stop,' said the Medium, 'you're too
excited to ask that question now. Put some other questions first. Then
when you are calmer put the important question.' (A clever stroke! He
did not know enough of me or of Marie to answer _anything_ definitely--a
few intermediate questions might furnish him with many a clue.) 'But, my
dear sir,' I cried, 'what _can_ I ask about? I have but one thought in
my mind; _that_ engulfs all others. If I don't ask that, I shall have to
ask Marie if she minds this pouring rain, or some twaddle about the
weather.' 'Well, well, you'd better ask it then, and get it off your
mind, and we'll see how far Marie can answer it.' (Here let me recall
that stanza in Sister Belle's communication wherein she says:

"My form was sold to doctors three
And you have all that's left of me," etc.)

I sat down at my table and wrote: 'Is it really true that Sister Belle's
body was sold to three doctors?' I folded it down, carried it to the
Medium's table, watched him gum it, and still remained standing at his
table, but he immediately and peremptorily waved me to my seat. Again
were his hands and my strip of paper, with its _freshly gummed_ fold,
completely hidden from sight, behind the row of books. Again the
Medium's arms moved. He turned to the window and hastily pulled down the
shade. This puzzled me. There was no sunshine to be excluded, it was
raining fast outside, the day was unusually dark, and he needed all the
light he could get. I turned and looked out of my window, and there in
the house just across the narrow street, at a window on a level with
ours, and commanding a full view of the Medium's table, sat a woman
sewing, with another, I think, standing by her. 'Bravo!' I thought, 'are
not the four Cardinal virtues, Temperance, Justice, _Prudence_ and
Fortitude?' and then resumed my watch inside. Dr. Mansfield finished
writing, and then held up the slip as though for a final revision before
handing it to me. A toothpick which he had in his mouth worked
energetically from side to side, and he gravely shook his head as in
perplexity. 'I don't like this,' he ejaculated at last, 'I don't want to
give it to you. There'll be trouble here. It's very serious. Better let
me tear it up.' 'Let me see it,' I cried, 'I promise you I'll be calm,'
and I took the strip from his fingers and read:

'Dear Brother--I fear such was the case--but--I could not say who--I
have consulted Dr. Hare--and the far famed Benja Rush, and they agree
that the body is not in the earth--I fear darling Belle's body--is in
process of being--wired. Marie St. Clair.'

The last word was not, I thought, quite legible, so I appealed to the
Medium, and when he solemnly said 'wired,' the utterance with which I
greeted it he probably thought was a groan, and, indeed, from the
borderland of laughter, I did try to push it over into the land of
tears, as hard as I could.

My third question immediately followed: "Can you give me any information
as to where even a portion of the body is?" Again I was waved to my
seat, again my strip of paper and the hands were concealed, again the
arms were nervously moved. This answer I awaited with not a little
anxiety. Surely, surely, Marie St. Clair and Sister Belle would remember
that their joint skull was in my library. They had told me so, only a
few weeks before, and as that skull was known to be fifty or sixty years
old, and their united memory of it had lasted throughout those long
years, surely that memory would not desert them now. And Dr. 'Benja'
Rush, who had recently greeted me as 'townsman,' he was present and
surely he would come to the rescue of Spiritualism, and gladly seize the
chance to settle the question which he had once discussed with Combe,
and Gall, and Spurzheim by bringing forward the frail Marie and the
golden-haired, black-eyed Belle as tenants in common (and uncommon) of
the same skull. Moreover, I thought, are there not to be found in
Anatomical Museums skeletons of infants with one body and two heads? Why
may not this have been an instance of one head and two bodies? To be
sure, one of the bodies lived in Ohio and the other in Massachusetts,
but then when we have once started on a journey through the marvels of
Spiritualism, as portrayed by these four Mediums, what does such a
trifle as this amount to? I had, I reflected, in all seriousness, taken
no single step in the investigation of these Mediums that was not fully
authorized by the explicit statements received from the Mediums
themselves. I had accepted as truth what they told me was truth. If
Spiritualism is hereby wounded, it is wounded in the house of its own

At last my answer came: 'I am not allowed to divulge what _I_
think--much less what I know--it would be productive of more harm than
good--let them have it--it is but earth at best--they have not got _our_
precious Belle--she is safe in the Haven of Eternal repose--_I_ would
not make any noise about it--but let it pass--as a discovery of it would
give you pain rather than otherwise--Belle says let it pass--the
_triune_ that have it bought it without knowing whose it was, and such
care as little as they know.

Marie St. Clair.'

I felt that it was time that a conclusion should be put to this farce,
so humiliating in the thought that honest, unsuspicious, gentle men and
gentle women are daily deceived by it. Nevertheless, I wished to bring
the 'wheel full circle' to this Medium's Spiritual communications of
aforetime. I recalled that Cornelia Winnie's spirit had said that she
thought the skull was Dina Melish's 'top not.' My fourth, and last,
question therefore ran: 'Do you think that by any chance Dina Melish
would know?' To which the answer came: 'Well Brother, as to that She may
know more than She may be willing to divulge--you see, Brother, it
places Dinah in a very unpleasant position, _i.e._, should it be noised
abroad that she was in the secret. I do not by any means censure Dinah
for what she may know, if _know_ she does. You could xamine Dinah on
that point--carefully, not allowing her to suspect your object in so
doing. You might and might not elicit some light on the matter.

Marie St. Clair.'

14 May, '85.

After I had handed this last question to Dr. Mansfield a slight incident
enabled me, to my own satisfaction, to note the exact instant when he
read my question (he would say, 'clairvoyantly') behind his row of
books. He once lifted his eyes to mine, and met them full for an instant
in a piercing look. I do not think he suspected that I was his former
correspondent (I would have told him willingly who I was if he had ever
asked me), but the name 'Dina Melish' seemed to come back to his memory,
as one that he had heard but could not localize. Of course I knew that
he had just read my question.

I told him that these were all the questions I desired to ask him. He
exhorted me to be calm, and told me a cheerful story of a young girl's
having been recently buried alive, of which, I infer, the moral was,
that she would have found it more comfortable all round to have been
sold to the doctors. I paid him his fee and left.

In conclusion, let me add that we have by no means exhausted the lessons
which Spiritualism, in the hands of some of its votaries, can teach us.
To our purblind vision the joint ownership of one skull by two different
persons presents a physiological problem more or less difficult of
solution. But all difficulty vanishes as soon as 'the river is crossed.'
I derived no little comfort and much light from a Materializing Seance
which I attended shortly afterwards in Boston, where both Marie St.
Clair and Sister Belle appeared together, at the same time, and greeted
me with affectionate warmth. To my inexpressible relief they were each
well provided with skulls. They were more mature and matronly, I
confess, than my ardent fancy had painted them, and Sister Belle's
'golden curls one yard long' were changed to very straight black hair;
the golden hue which Sister Belle had herself ascribed to them must have
been due to the light in which she saw them, 'the light that never was
on sea or land.'

I was pleased to find that Marie's English was excellent, without a
trace of foreign accent. But this, and the matronly appearance, I
learned subsequently were presumably due to the age, shape and nativity
of the Medium through whom she materialized. For when Marie afterwards
appeared to me, as she did many times at another Medium's seances, her
appearance was quite youthful, with clustering brown curls low down on
her forehead, which when I once attempted to stroke I found to be full
of sharp pins; and to my expressions of gratitude that she should so
kindly appear to me, she lisped in broken English: 'I am viz you
olvays.' The present of an amber necklace, with the name 'Marie'
engraved on the silver clasp, obtained for me from her the written
expression of her pleasure that I had carefully preserved what I assured
her was 'the last thing on her neck before she passed over.' Need I say
that this document, in Marie's own handwriting, invests the skull with
even added interest?


* * * * *


I think it would be difficult to find a psychological study more
interesting than that which is afforded by a Materializing seance. I
have never attended one that did not yield abundant food for reflection,
and present one problem, at least, too deep for any solution I can
devise. Although, perhaps, our first experience in such seances makes
the deepest impression, yet the novelty never wears off, nor can custom
stale its variety. The audiences are never wholly the same, and every
Medium has her own peculiar method.

In the cities where the Mediums reside, and where they hold their
seances on regular days throughout the winter, the audiences are by no
means composed only of those who go out of idle curiosity; these form
but a small segment of the 'circle,' the majority are regular
attendants, mostly those whose lives have been clouded by sorrow, and
who go thither as to a church or sanctuary, and so serious and earnest
is their deportment that I cannot imagine any temptation to open levity.
This unaffectedly religious character of these seances cannot fail, I
think, to strike even the most indifferent. The careful arrangement of
the visitors who are to compose what is termed the 'circle;' the nice
balancing of positive natures with negative natures, wherein the Medium
is guided by her delicate spiritual insight; the quiet hush; the
whispered conversation; the darkened room; the darker drapery of the
mysterious Cabinet, with its untold possibilities; the subdued chords of
the dim melodeon; the soothing tones of familiar hymns, in which all
voices join; the words full of assurance of a deathless life, of
immortal love, of reunion with earthly idols, not lost, but gone before
only a very little distance, and now present and impatient for the
Medium's trance to enable them to return radiant with love and joy--all
these conspire to kindle emotions deeply religious in hearts that are
breaking under blows of bereavement, and of such, as I have said, the
majority of the audiences are composed. Every effort is made by the
Mediums to heighten the effect. Before entering the Cabinet to undergo
her mysterious trance, the Medium generally makes a short address,
reminding the circle that this is a solemn hour, that here is the
forecourt of the world beyond, thronged with living Spirits, eager to
return, bearing visible, tangible assurance of immortality and of
enduring love, and that the mysterious agency, whereby they return, is
greatly aided by a sympathetic harmony in the circle, and so forth. The
Medium then enters the Cabinet; the curtains close; the light is
lowered; the organ sounds some solemn chords, gliding into the hymn,
'Nearer, my God, to Thee,' which all join in singing. At its close there
is a hush of anticipation; and that nature must be unimpressionable
indeed, that is not stirred when the dark, heavy folds of the curtains
of the Cabinet are discerned to be tremulously moving; and, as they
gently part, disclose a figure veiled from head to foot in robes of

If the return of the heavenly visitant would but end here, I think the
impression would be deeper and more abiding. The filmy, vague outline of
the white figure thoroughly harmonizes with all established, orthodox
notions of ghosts, and if this were all of the apparition vouchsafed to
us, we might, perhaps, have a harder problem to deal with than when the
Spirit actually emerges from the Cabinet with outstretched arms of
greeting. A substantial, warm, breathing, flesh and blood ghost, whose
foot-falls jar the floor, is slightly heterodox and taxes our credulity;
if hereunto be added an unmistakable likeness to the Medium in form and
feature, many traces, I am afraid, of the supernatural and spiritual

Mindful of our endeavour as a Commission, to have as many observers as
possible in cases demanding close observation, I never attended a
Materializing seance as a member of this Commission. Whenever I happened
to be personally known (and my ear-trumpet soon makes me a marked man),
that official capacity was unavoidably imputed to me, but I never
announced it nor claimed it. I was present merely as an observer on my
own account, with the intention of making arrangements, if practicable,
for seances with the rest of the Commission, if what I saw seemed to me
sufficiently remarkable to justify the expense, which experience, with
other Mediums in other lines, had taught me would be very considerable.
I therefore took no notes, and could at this late day only after much
difficulty furnish dates. Wherefore all that I propose in this
Memorandum is to give my own private conclusion, which is worth no more
than the conclusion of any other private individual, and to mention the
test to which I subjected all the Spirits whom I had the pleasure of
specially 'interviewing'; as this test can be applied by any one, at any
time, at any seance, it partakes of the nature of a general truth, which
does not need the support of dates, or names, or places to uphold it. I
suppose I have attended between twenty and thirty Materializing seances.

I do not hesitate to acknowledge that I have been throughout sincerely
and extremely anxious to become converted to Spiritualism. In whatever
direction my judgment is warped, it is warped in favor of that belief. I
cannot conceive of the texture of that mind which would not welcome such
an indisputable proof of immortality as Spiritualism professes to hold

In general, then, let me say at once and emphatically that I have never
seen anything which, in the smallest degree, has led me to suppose that
a Spirit can be, as it is termed, materialized. It is superfluous to add
that I never recognized a materialized Spirit; in only two instances
have any Spirits professed to be members of my family, and in one of
those two instances, as it happened, that member was alive and in robust
health, and in the other a Spirit claimed a fictitious relationship,
that of niece.

Of course this assertion applies only to those Spirits who materialized
especially for me. I do not pretend to answer for Spirits who came to
other people. All that I am quite sure of is that all the Spirits who
singled me out from the circle, and emerged from the Cabinet for my
benefit, were not only abundantly 'padded round with flesh and fat,' but
also failed utterly in any attempt to establish their individuality; and
moreover, in the instances where I had seen the Medium before she
entered the Cabinet, so closely resembled the Medium as, in my eyes, to
be indistinguishable from her.

It is, I confess, a very puzzling problem (it is, in fact, the problem
to which I alluded above) to account for the faith, undoubtedly genuine,
which Spiritualists have in the personal reappearance of their departed
friends. Again and again have I asked those who have returned, from an
interview with a Spirit at the Cabinet, to their seats beside me,
whether or not they had recognized their friends beyond a peradventure,
and have always received an affirmative reply, sometimes strongly
affirmative. I was once taken to the Cabinet by a woman and introduced
to the Shade of her dead husband. When we resumed our seats, I could not
help asking her: 'Are you _sure_ you recognized him?' Whereupon she
instantly retorted, with much indignation, 'Do you mean to imply that I
don't _know_ my _husband_?' Again, at another seance, a woman, a
visitor, led from the Cabinet to me a Materialized Spirit, whom she
introduced to me as 'her daughter, her dear, darling daughter,' while
nothing could be clearer to me than the features of the Medium in every
line and lineament. Again and again, men have led round the circles the
Materialized Spirits of their wives, and introduced them to each visitor
in turn; fathers have taken round their daughters, and I have seen
widows sob in the arms of their dead husbands. Testimony, such as this,
staggers me. Have I been smitten with color-blindness? Before me, as far
as I can detect, stands the very Medium herself, in shape, size, form,
and feature true to a line, and yet, one after another, honest men and
women at my side, within ten minutes of each other, assert that she is
the absolute counterpart of their nearest and dearest friends, nay, that
she _is_ that friend. It is as incomprehensible to me as the assertion
that the heavens are green, and the leaves of the trees deep blue. Can
it be that the faculty of observation and comparison is rare, and that
our features are really vague and misty to our best friends? Is it that
the Medium exercises some mesmeric influence on her visitors, who are
thus made to accept the faces which she wills them to see? Or is it,
after all, only the dim light and a fresh illustration of _la nuit tous
les chats sont gris_? The light, be it remembered, is always dim at
these seances, and it is often made especially dim when a Spirit leaves
the Cabinet. I think I have never been able at such times to read the
Arabic numerals on my watch, which happen to be unusually large and
pronounced. Unquestionably Spiritualists will be at no loss to explain
this puzzle; possibly they would say that I have here unconsciously
given one of the very best of proofs of the reality and genuineness of
Materialization, and that my unbelief acts on the sensitive, evanescent
features of the Spirit like a chemical reagent, and that--but it is not
worth while to weaken by anticipation their solacing arguments.

In any statement of this problem we should bear in mind all the
attending circumstances: the darkened room; the music; the singing; the
pervading hush of expectation; the intensely concentrated attention; the
strained gaze at the dark Cabinet and at its white robed apparitions;
and finally, the presence of a number of sympathizing believers.

There is another fact about these seances which I think cannot fail to
impress even the most casual observer, and this is the attractive charms
which the Cabinet seems to possess for the aboriginal Indian. This child
of nature appears to materialize with remarkable facility, and, having
apparently doffed his characteristic phlegm in the happy hunting
grounds, enters with extreme zest on the lighter gambols which sometimes
enliven the sombre monotony of a seance. Almost every Medium keeps an
Indian 'brave' in her cohort of Spirits; in fact, there is no Cabinet,
howe'er so ill attended, but has some Indian there. It is strange, too,
that, as far as I know, departed black men, who might be supposed to be
quite as unsophisticated as departed red men, have hitherto developed
no such materializing proclivities. It is, perhaps, even more strange
that while, in my experience, Italian Spirits neither understand nor
speak Italian, and French Spirits can neither comprehend nor talk
French, and German Spirits remain invincibly dumb in German, it is
reserved to Indian 'braves' to be glibly and fluently voluble in the
explosive gutturals of their own well-known tongue.

Before a seance begins, a thorough examination of the Cabinet is always
tendered, a privilege of which I very seldom avail myself, and hold to
be always superfluous, on the following grounds: First, if the Spirits
which come out of the Cabinet be genuine, it is of very small moment how
they got in, and no possible scrutiny of the material structure of the
Cabinet will disclose the process. Secondly, if the Spirits be
fraudulent, the Mediums are too quick-witted and ingenious in their
methods of introducing confederates into the Cabinet not to conceal all
traces of mechanical contrivance far too effectually to be detected in
any cursory examination. It is also to be borne in mind that much can be
done under cover of the darkness, which is sometimes total for a few
minutes before the seance begins, and also that the notes of the
melodeon are sufficiently deep and loud to drown not a little rustling.
If the Mediums are deceitful I have always felt that in any endeavor to
unmask them the odds are heavily in their favor. The methods are
manifold whereby confederates may be introduced into the Cabinet: from
above, from below, and, enveloped in black stuff, from back parlors,
rooms and closets. It is not what goes into the Cabinet which, in my
opinion, demands our scrutiny but what comes out of it; it is to the
Spirits to which all our tests should be applied, the Cabinet and the
Medium are quite secondary. Furthermore, it should be remembered that
those who sit nearest to the Cabinet are always staunch friends of the
Medium, or known by her to be perfectly safe and harmless.

Not infrequently a Materialized Spirit is seen to subside into the floor
between the folds of the curtains at the opening of the Cabinet, This is
termed 'de-materialization,' and not a little mystery is ascribed to it.
The mystery vanishes when we reflect how easy it is for a lithe and
active young woman so to bow down quickly, even to the very ground, as
to convey the impression, when her white garments are alone visible
against a black background, that she has sunk into the floor. I have at
times distinctly felt the faint jar caused by the Medium's falling
backward within the dark curtains a little too hastily. At times, when
the Spirit is wholly within the Cabinet, and visible only through the
parted folds of the curtain, the semblance of a gradual sinking is
obtained by simply uniting slowly the two folds of the black curtain,
beginning at the head and gradually closing them down to the feet; the
room is generally so dark that the dark curtain is indistinguishable at
a little distance, and the effect of slowly falling is admirably
conveyed. In one instance, where the Spiritual garments were not white,
but particolored (the Spirit was a Scotch girl and wore the tartan), the
effect of de-materializing was capitally given by the Spirit's standing
just inside the slightly parted curtains, and then allowing the whole
outer costume, even to the head-dress, to fall swiftly to the floor.
Perhaps the best effect in this line, that I have seen, was on one
occasion when a Spirit had retired within the folds of the curtain, but
apparently immediately reappeared again at the opening; she had been
habited somewhat like a nun with white bands and fillets around the head
and face; thus, too, was she clad at her reappearance, but, as I sat
quite close to the Cabinet, I perceived that the figure was composed
merely of the garments of the former Spirit, and that there was no face
at all within the head-gear. I am sure the omission could not have been
detected at the distance at which the rest of the circle sat. This
snow-white figure was allowed to sink very, very slowly, the dark
curtains uniting above it as it gradually sank, until only the oval
white head-dress around what should have been a face rested for a few
seconds on the very floor, and then suddenly collapsed. It was in the
highest degree ingeniously devised and artistically executed.

There are also various styles of appearing as well as of disappearing. I
think the very best and most effective of them all is where a Spirit
gradually materializes before our very eyes, outside of the Cabinet, far
enough, indeed, outside to give the appearance to a visitor directly in
front of rising up from the very centre of the room. A minute spot of
white, no larger than a dollar, is first noticed on the floor; this
gradually increases in size, until there is a filmy, gauzy mass which
rises fold on fold like a fountain, and then, when it is about a foot
and a-half high, out of it rises a Spirit to her full height, and either
swiftly glides to greet a loved one in the circle, or as swiftly retires
to the Cabinet. It is really beautiful, and its charm is not diminished
by a knowledge of the simplicity of the process, which, as I have sat
more than once when the Cabinet was almost in profile, I soon detected.
The room is very dark, the outline of the black muslin Cabinet can only
with difficulty be distinguished even to one sitting within six feet of
it; a fold of black cloth, perhaps five feet long and four feet wide, is
thrown from the Cabinet forward into the room, one end is held within
the Cabinet at about two or three feet above the floor, and from under
the extreme opposite edge, where it rests on the floor, some white tulle
is slowly protruded, a very little at first, but gradually more and more
is thrust out, until there is enough there to permit the Spirit, who has
crept out from the Cabinet under the black cloth and has been busy
pushing out the white tulle, to get her head and shoulders well within
the mass, when she rises swiftly and gracefully, and the dark cloth is
drawn back into the Cabinet. I always want to applaud it; it is

On one occasion, a Spirit tried this pretty mode of materialization, not
directly in front of the Cabinet, but at the side quite close to where I
sat. The Cabinet was merely a frame to which were attached black muslin
or cloth curtains, and a Spirit can emerge at the side quite as
conveniently as in front. Unfortunately this time, through some
heedlessness, the Spirit did not creep out of the frame-work with
sufficient care, and some portion of her garments must have caught when
she was only on her knees. I never shall forget the half-comic,
half-appealing, feminine glance as her eyes looked up into mine, when
she was only partially materialized and some plaguey nail had caught her
angel robe. It was very hard not to spring to her assistance; but such
gallantry would have been excessively ill-timed, so I was forced to sit
still while the poor _animula, vagula, blandula_, worked herself free
and arose unfettered by my side.

Perhaps this is as fitting a place as any to mention the test whereby I
have tried the Spirits who have come to me.

As this same lovely Spirit arose and looked graciously down on me and
held out her hands in welcome, I arose also to my feet, and peering
anxiously into her face, asked, 'Is this Olivia?' 'Yes,' she softly
murmured in reply. Then ensued the following conversation which I
reproduce as faithfully as I can. It was broken off once by the Spirit's
retiring into the Cabinet, but resumed when she again appeared to me.

'Ah, Olive dear, how lovely of you to materialize! Did you really want
to come back?' 'Very much, of course,' she answered. 'And do you
remember the sweet years of old?' 'All of them,' she whispered. 'Do you
remember,' I continued, 'the old oak near Sumner-place?' [A happy hit,
in the longitude of Boston!] 'Yes, indeed, I do,' was the low reply, as
her head fell gently on my shoulder. 'And do you remember, Olive dear,
whose names were carved on it?' 'Yes; ah, yes!' 'Oh, Olive, there's one
thing I want so much to ask you about. Tell me, dear, if I speak of
anything you don't remember. What was the matter with you that
afternoon, one summer, when your father rode his hunter to the town, and
Albert followed after upon his; and then your mother trundled to the
gate behind the dappled grays. Do you remember it, dear?' 'Perfectly.'
'Well, don't you remember, nothing seemed to please you that afternoon,
you left the novel all uncut upon the rosewood shelf, you left your new
piano shut, something seemed to worry you. Do you remember it, dear
one?' 'All of it, yes, yes.' 'Then you came singing down to that old
oak, and kissed the place where I had carved our names with many vows.
Tell me, you little witch, who were you thinking of all that time?' 'All
the while of you,' she sighed. 'And do you, oh, do you remember that you
fell asleep under the oak, and that a little acorn fell into your bosom
and you tossed it out in a pet? Ah, Olive dear, I found that acorn, and
kissed it twice, and kissed it thrice for thee! And do you know that it
has grown into a fine young oak?' 'I know it,' she answered softly and
sadly, 'I often go to it!' This was almost too much for me, and as my
memory, on the spur of the moment, of Tennyson's _Talking Oak_ was
growing misty, I was afraid the interview might become embarrassing for
lack of reminiscences, so I said, 'Dearest Olivia, that is so lovely of
you. There, be a good girl, good-bye now. You'll surely come and see me
again the next time I come here, won't you?' 'Yes, indeed, I will.' I
released my arm from encircling a very human waist, and Olive lifted her
head from my shoulder, where she had been speaking close to my ear, and

Marie St. Clair, who, on Spiritual authority as I have shown above,
shares the ownership with Sister Belle of 'Yorick's' skull in my
possession, has never failed to assent whenever I ask a Spirit if it be
she. To be sure, she varies with every different Medium, but that is
only one of her piquant little ways, which I early learned to overlook
and at last grew to like. She is both short and tall, lean and plump,
with straight hair and with curls, young and middle-aged, so that now it
affords me real pleasure to meet a new variety of her; but in all her
varieties she never fails to express her delight over my guarding with
care that which was 'the last thing on her neck before she passed over.'
I was extremely anxious to obtain a written acknowledgment of this
pleasure from Marie, and accordingly I took with me to one of the
seances a little trinket, and told the Spirit that I would give it to
her if she would just write down for me a few words expressive of this
pleasure, and, as she was disappearing into the Cabinet, I thrust a
writing-tablet and a pencil into her hand. Before the seance closed, she
reappeared to me, and handing me a paper claimed my promise. In full
faith I gave her the little breast-pin, and after the seance, to my
chagrin, I found the writing on the paper was not from her, but a
message from my 'father,' announcing that he had 'found the next life a
great truth,' which was, certainly, cheering, in view of the fact that
he was enjoying the present in so remarkably hearty and healthy a

For the next seance I provided an amber necklace, on whose clasp I had
'Marie' engraved, and when the Spirit of the fair French girl appeared,
I taxed her with her naughty, deceitful ways, and told her that I would
not give her the necklace, which I had brought for her, until she gave
me what I asked for, in her own writing. In a very few minutes she
reappeared and handed me a paper, whereon she had written: 'I am so glad
you have kept them so nicely, Your Marie.' (As her skull was shared by
Sister Belle, I suppose Marie was strictly logical, if ungrammatical, in
referring to it as 'them.') It was enough; in a few minutes after, Marie
reappeared wearing the amber beads glistening round her neck.

No sooner had I given the necklace than occurred another illustration of
the remarkable and amiable pliancy with which Materialized Spirits will
answer to any name with which they are addressed. The Medium who
conducted the seance came to me and said, 'There's a Spirit in the
Cabinet who says she's your niece.' Very thoughtlessly I replied, 'But I
haven't any niece in the Spirit world.' The instant after I had spoken,
I felt my mistake. You must never repel any Spirit that comes to you. It
throws a coolness over your whole intercourse with that particular
Spirit-band; no Spirit from it will be likely to come to you again. No
surface of madrepores is more sensitive to a touch than a Cabinet full
of Spirits to a chilling syllable of failure. To regain my lost
position, therefore, I said hastily, 'But can it be Effie?' (It was a
mere hap-hazard name; I know no 'Effie.') The Medium went to the Cabinet
and returned with the answer, 'She says she's Effie, and she wants to
see you.' Of course, I went with alacrity to where the curtains of the
Cabinet stood open, and there, just within it, saw a Spirit whom I
recognized as having appeared once before during the evening with Marie,
when the latter had materialized as a sailor-boy, and the two had danced
a Spiritualist horn-pipe to the tune of 'A Life on the Ocean Wave.' 'Oh,
Effie dear,' I said, 'is that you?' 'Yes, dear Uncle, I wanted so much
to see you.' 'Forgive me, dear,' I pleaded, 'for having forgotten you.'
'Certainly I will, dear Uncle, and won't you bring me a necklace, too?'
'Certainly, dear,' I replied, 'when I come here again.' I have never
been there since.

Thus is illustrated what will be, I think, the experience of every one
who cares to apply this test to Materialized Spirits. When the
investigator is unknown to the Medium, a Spirit materialized through
that Medium will confess to any name in the heavens above or the earth
beneath, in the world of fiction or the world of reality. Of course, it
would not do to ask a Spirit whether or not it were some well-known
public, or equally well-known fictitious, character. You would be
repelled if you should ask a Spirit if it were 'Yankee Doodle,' but I am
by no means sure that it would not confess to being 'Cap'en Good'in,'
who accompanied Yankee Doodle and his father on their trip to town, and
whose name is less familiar in men's mouths. All the good, earnest,
simple-hearted folk who attend these seances ask the Spirits, when they
appear to them for the first time, if they are father, mother, brother,
husband, wife, or sister, and the Spirit will in every case confess the
kinship asked for. But, as I have just said, the investigator need not
restrict himself to his family, his friends, or his acquaintances. Let
him enter the world of fiction, or of poetry, or of history, he has but
to call for whomsoever he will, and the Materialized Spirit will answer:
'Lo! here am I!'

Let me strengthen this with the following additional illustration: Not
long ago at a Materializing seance where I was, I think, unknown to
everyone, certainly to the Medium, a Spirit emerged from the Cabinet,
clad in flowing white robes, and advanced towards me with a wavering
gait, which could be readily converted into a tottering walk, if I
should perchance ask if it were my great-grandmother, or could be
interpreted as the feeble incertitude of a first materialization, if I
should perchance descend the family tree and ask for a more youthful
scion. I arose as it approached and asked: 'Is this Rosamund?' 'Yes!'
replied the Spirit, still wobbling a little, and in doubt whether to
assume the role of youth or of old age. 'What! Fair Rosamund!' I
exclaimed, throwing into my voice all the joy and buoyancy I could
master. The hint to the Spirit was enough. All trace of senility
vanished, and with equal joyousness she responded 'Yes, it's indeed
Rosamund!' Then I went on, 'Dearest Rosamund, there's something I want
so much to ask you. Do you remember who gave you that bowl just before
you died?' Here Fair Rosamund nodded her head gaily and pointed her
finger at me. 'Oh, no, no, no,' I said, 'you forget, Fair Rosamund, I
wasn't there then. It was at Woodstock.' 'Oh, yes, yes,' she hastily
rejoined, 'so it was; it was at Woodstock.' 'And it was Eleanor who
offered you that bowl.' 'To be sure, I remember it now perfectly. It was
Eleanor.' 'But Rosamund, Fair Rosamund, what made you drink that bowl?
Had you no suspicions?' 'No, I had no suspicions.' And here she shook
her head very sadly. 'Didn't you see what Eleanor had in her other
hand?' 'No.' 'Ah, Fair Rosamund, I'm afraid she was a bad lot.' 'Indeed
she was!' (with great emphasis). 'What cruel eyes she had!' 'Hadn't she,
though!' 'How did she find you out?' 'I haven't an idea.' 'Ah, Fair
Rosamund, do you remember how beautiful you were [here the Spirit
simpered a little] after you were dead, and how the people came from far
and near to look at you?' 'Yes,' said Fair Rosamund, 'I looked down on
them all the while.' And here she glided back into the Cabinet.

It is not impossible that a Spiritualist might urge that the test which
I apply is not a fair one--that guile will beget guile, that the Spirits
meet me as I meet them.

But what other possible way have I of finding out who the Spirits are,
when they do not tell me in advance, but by asking them? Whenever they
have been announced to me as this or that Spirit, I invariably treat
them as the Spirits of those whom they assert themselves to be, and, in
my conclusions, am guided only by the pertinency of their answers to my
questions. Whenever William Shakespeare appears to me (and, by the way,
let me here parenthetically note, as throwing light on a vexed question,
that Shakespeare in the Spirit-world 'favors' the Chandos Portrait, even
to the two little white collar strings hanging down in front; his Spirit
has visited me several times, and such was his garb when I saw him most
distinctly); when, I repeat, Shakespeare materializes in the Cabinet for
me, do I not always most reverently salute him, and does he not
graciously nod to me--until I venture most humbly to ask him what the
misprint, 'Vllorxa' in _Timon of Athens_ stands for, when he always
slams the curtains in my face? (I meekly own that perhaps he is
justified.) Have I ever failed in respectful homage to General
Washington? Did I ever evince the slightest mistrust of Indian 'braves?'

When a Spirit comes out of the Cabinet especially to me, how am I to
know, or to find out, who it is but by asking? If it be not the Spirit
that I name, will it not, if it has a shred of honesty, set me right?
What hinders it from telling me just who it is? If it be the Spirit of
my great-grandmother, it can be surely no satisfaction to her, after all
the bother of materialization, to hold converse with me as the Spirit of
Sally in our Alley; and if she be, in every sense of the word, a
'spirity' old lady, she will instantly undeceive me, and 'let me know
who I am talking to.' But why should I anticipate deceit at Spiritual
hands? If William Shakespeare can appear to me, why not Fair Rosamund?
Hereupon a Spiritualist may maintain that if the Spirit said she was
Fair Rosamund, and displayed a familiarity with the incidents of that
frail woman's life and death, she probably was Fair Rosamund. So be it.
I yield, and will go farther, and hereafter find no more difficulty,
than in her case, in Tennyson's Olivia, Marie St. Clair, and in the
heroes and heroines of Scheherezade's Thousand and One Nights.

Although I have been thus thwarted at every turn in my investigations of
Spiritualism, and found fraud where I had looked for honesty, and
emptiness where I had hoped for fulness, I cannot think it right to pass
a verdict, universal in its application, where far less than the
universe of Spiritualism has been observed. My field of examination has
been limited. There is an outlying region claimed by Spiritualists which
I have not touched, and into which I would gladly enter, were there any
prospect that I should meet with more success. I am too deeply imbued
with the belief that we are such stuff as dreams are made on, to be
unwilling to accept a few more shadows in my sleep. Unfortunately, in my
experience, Dante's motto must be inscribed over an investigation of
Spiritualism, and all hope must be abandoned by those who enter on it.

If the performances which I have witnessed are, after all, in their
essence Spiritual, their mode of manifestation certainly places them
only on the margin, the very outskirts of that realm of mystery which
Spiritualism claims as its own. Spiritualism, pure and undefiled, if it
mean anything at all, must be something far better than Slate Writing
and Raps. These grosser physical manifestations can be but the mere ooze
and scum cast up by the waves on the idle pebble, the waters of a
heaven-lit sea, if it exist, must lie far out beyond.

The time is not far distant, I cannot but think, when the more elevated
class of Spiritualists will cast loose from all these physical
manifestations, which, even if they be proved genuine, are but little
removed from Materialism, and eventually Materializing Seances, held on
recurrent days, and at fixed hours, will become unknown.



Advertisement calling for mediums

Briggs, Mr. Fred., medium

Caffray, Mr. Joseph, medium

Flint, Mr. R.W., medium
Fullerton, Prof. G.S., on the Slade-Zoellner investigation
Furness, H.H., on materialization
On mediumistic development
On Slade

Independent slate writing

Kane, Mrs. Margaret Fox
Keeler, Mr. P.L.O.A., medium
Keeler, Mr. W.M., medium
Kellar, Mr. Harry
Knerr, Dr., on slate writing
Koenig, Prof. Geo. A., about Mrs. Thayer

Leidy, Prof. Joseph, about Mrs. Thayer
On mediums
Letter from Mrs. Kane
Letters, sealed
Lord, Mrs. Maud E., medium

Mansfield, Dr. James
Martin, Mrs. Eliza A., medium
Martin, Mrs. Dr. Eleanor
Mediumistic development

Names of commissioners

Patterson, Mrs. S.E., medium
Photographs, spiritual
Powell, Mr., medium
Preface to the Appendix

Rappings, spirit
Report of commission
Rothermel, Dr.

Screen, use of by Keeler
Sealed letters
Slade, Dr. Henry, examined by Dr. Pepper
letter from
personal appearance
examination of
resolution of commission in regard to
Slate writing
Spirit rappings
Spiritual photographs

Thayer, Mrs. M.B., medium
Tricks of jugglers
of Slade

Wells, Mrs., medium

Zoellner, Slade-, report on
calling attention to in report


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