< The Credulity of Skeptics. (continued from page 1-182) >
uine, and are ever ready to be tried again, we require considerable testimony in favor of a theory of fraud in explanation of the manifestations that constantly occur in their presence.
Since writing the above the cable brings the news that on Monday last Dr. Slade appeared at the Bow street Police Court, in answer to two summons, taken out by Professor Edwin Ray Lankester. The first summons is under the vagrant act, and the second charges him with conspiring with one Simmons, his assistant, to defraud. The charge of conspiracy was first proceeded with, and Professor Lankester deponed that he had actually seen Slade himself write the messages which he professed were spiritual manifestations. The court room was crowded, after a hearing the case was adjourned one week. Slade and Simmons were admitted to bail.
Spiritualism Gets a Hearing
Spiritualism is making rapid strides in London, Eng. It is getting a hearing on all sides. The subject was cleverly introduced before the British Scientific Association to the evident disgust, however, of a portion, and in fact a large portion of its members. The next step taken is that several members of the Association visit Dr. Slade, claim an exposure, publish long letters in the London Times, and finish their work by bringing him before the police court on a charge of vagrancy and fraud, as we have noticed more fully in another column.
Surely Spiritualists have no cause for complaint. The results of the trial cannot but be beneficial to the cause. The prosecution have the statements of two gentleman, that the exhibition of Dr. Slade is nothing but a series of clever tricks and they will submit in support of their position, the evidence that they saw him write the messages on the slate before presenting it for the spirits to write them. On the other side will come an endless number of persons who will give testimony under oath that will astonish the reading public who know nothing of Spiritualism except through the columns of the daily press. The trial will undoubtedly be fully reported and as eagerly scanned by hosts of skeptics, ministers and church members who are prejudiced against Spiritualism, by the statements of those who are constantly misrepresenting the movement, its adherents and its phenomena.
Exposure of an Exposer
Recent developments in the Slade controversy in the London Enquirer, sustain the opinion advanced by the Scientist of last week, that the action of Prof. Lankester, in visiting and prosecuting Dr. Slade was prompted by malice towards Spiritualism, engendered by the bitterness of the discussion that took place in the British Scientific Association on this subject at its last issue. For the first time in its history Spiritualism was having a hearing consequent upon the reading of Prof. Barrett's paper on “Some phenomena associated with abnormal conditions of mind.” Prof. Lankester manifested his intense prejudice the day following by writing a letter to the London Times wherein he said, “that in consequence of the more than questionable action of Mr. Alfred Wallace, the discussions of the British Association have been degraded by the introduction of the subject of Spiritualism." Of what value is the testimony of such a narrow mind against Dr. Slade? Mr. Wallace, in reply to this accusation, shows that he never saw the paper before It was brought before the committee by the secretary, and says, “As to Prof. Lankester’s opinion as to what branches of inquiry are to be tabooed as degrading, we have, on the other side, the practical evidence of such men as Lord Rayleigh, Mr. Crookes, Dr. Carpenter, and Colonel Lane Fox—none of them inferior in scientific eminence ot Prof. Lankester, yet all taking part in the discussion, and all maintaining that discussion and inquiry were necessary, while the close attention of a late President of the Association and of a crowded audience shouted the great interest the subject excited.”
The “West End medium” closed her career in Boston last night. Notwithstanding the late thorough expose of her pretensions in the Herald, she had stoutly insisted upon their genuineness and had the moral hardihood, something less than two weeks ago, to challenge further investigation by inviting a number of persons to attend a “test seance,” at the rooms of a sincere and devout adherent of hers residing at the South End. Among the favored few invited to attend was a representative of the Herald, but the result was so in complete and altogether unsatisfactory that he found it impossible to say anything in her vindication. She pleaded great physical prostration, but promised, upon her recovery, to give unquestioned proofs of her medial powers. More than that, she agreed to return to the deserted house in McLean street, the scene of the discovered trap, and there demonstrate her power as a “materializer” without the aid of said trap.
In accordance with this promise, a number of persons were invited to meet, last evening, at 43 McLean street, and at about half-past seven o'clock a dozen or so ladies and gentlemen, nearly all Spiritualists, and including a representative of the Herald, were assembled in the familiar apartments of Mrs. Bennett's late domicile. Mrs. Bennett and Mr. Bennett were also present, the former occupying her usual seat and looking quite like the invalid which she is in the habit of claiming to be.
The hole made in the floor of the” spirit” room at the late expose had been repaired and the plastering in the room beneath was still intact. The doors and windows of the former room were secured, and the usual singing commenced, the medium, as usual, joined lustily in the vocal performance.
After the lapse of a few minutes the familiar voice of “Sunflower,” the supposed Indian maiden spirit, was heard behind the curtain. A little later the curtains were parted and her dusky face and form were imperfectly revealed to a few; but after speaking a few words of recognition to a number present she retreated, and obstinately resisted the most persuasive invitations of the medium and others to again show herself.
About this time Mrs. Bennett, who complained of a great draft upon the “pit of the stomach,” commenced to collapse, physically, begged for a drink of water and demanded that a light be struck, Her requests were complied with, and all present were convinced that the show was over for the night.
Then commenced another investigation of the premises, especially in the vicinity of the furnace register of the “spirit room," near which Mr. and Mrs. Bennett seemed to linger with something of food attachment. This circumstance, however, rather sharpened the scent of several investigators, one of whom announced his purpose to pull up the flooring in that vicinity. This announcement gave Mrs. Bennett another collapse, la the course of which she found herself upon the bit of flooring in question, begged for another drink of water, and imploring a cessation of the search until she had recovered her equilibrium Mr. Bennett was also literally upon the spot, and although he hadn't much to say, he was evidently indulging in an active train of thought and decidedly opposed to further proceedings. But the resolute gentleman with designs upon the floor persisted in his purpose, and Mrs. Bennett, having finally concluded that further resistance was useless, suddenly' abandoned her post.
Then up came the flooring between the register and the wall, and as it came there was revealed to the crowd of eager observers, a large recess between the floor and furnace, and snugly ensconsed therein was something which looked like a bundle of clothing, but which proved to be a woman, prone and shrinking under the indignant glances levelled upon her She was speedily routed from her hiding place, and stood in the midst of the spectators, whose curious, questioning eyes she baffled for a time by hiding her face with her hands.
Quite a tumult ensued, and some professed to fear that the woman would receive physical violence; but there was no purpose to harm her, and after she had been freely questioned she was allowed to depart. She is a good looking woman of perhaps thirty years, of good address and of more than ordinary shrewdness and intelligence. Indeed, her manner and conversation were such as to fully account for the extraordinary talent so long manifested by her in her personations of “Sunflower,” and other supposed spirits. Her name was elicited, but only after a pledge that it should trot be revealed for the present, the accomplished swindler pleading that she was under heavy bonds in a criminal suit, and that a revelation of her name would prejudice her cause and ruin her forever. She promises, however, to soon make a clean breast of her part in this great fraud, and to reveal a singular and startling drama.
During the removal of the floor, Mrs. Bennett quietly stole away, like the Arabs, and Mr. Bennett soon after as quietly disappeared. They will probably not resume business at 43 McLean Street.
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- Spiritualism Gets a Hearing by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 5, No. 5, October 5, 1876, p. 54
- Exposure of an Exposer by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 5, No. 6, October 12, 1876, p. 67
- Captured by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 5, No. 6, October 12, 1876, p. 63