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vol. 1, p. 187
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 1 (1874-1876)


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< A Distinction That Must Be Made (continued from page 1-186) >

End Medium.” Why call her a medium now, when there is not the slightest proof that she ever did or ever can produce any manifestations without the aid of trapdoors? Week before last the statement was made that “some people had been too hasty in pronouncing an opinion upon Mrs. Bennett. This was virtually making capital for this fraud. Its effect was seen in the attitude of Bennett, the carpenter, who thought that the trapdoor was so skilfully concealed that Mrs. Bennett would soon be “vindicated.”

The Herald took an expert master carpenter to the house. He at once located the trap-door, showed where the floor had been pieced, the cross beam cut and mended, the difference in laths, and the plaster paris patch in the kitchen underneath. There it was plainly revealed and can be seen by anyone who cares to take the trouble to see it. We hope that those Spiritualists who are arranging to bring Mrs. Bennett into court will not hesitate to do so. We are in favor of a few months in the House of Correction for these cursed traders in the most sacred of all truths.

We have no charity for impostors and very little for those Spiritualists who would relegate all trickery and fraud into the spiritual domain on the hypothesis that some spirit made the “medium” (?) do it. Mrs. Bennett would have been vindicated by the " veterans,” if the Herald had not wisely called in this expert carpenter. Now that the trap door is discovered, we have no doubt that some “veteran” will get up a labored argument to prove that “the spirits built the trap-door and then covered it up.” A spiritual journal should protect the mediums of Spiritualism. This we intend to do; but, in justice to them, we will never call detected impostors “mediums.” We require strong evidence against mediums who have been proved genuine, to believe them guilty of intentional fraud, but when individuals claim to be” mediums " and refuse to be tested as such, we are not surprised to hear of bogus materializations, kid gloves, spirit hands, masks, paraffine moulds, trap-doors, manufactured, prepared and manipulated by greedy vipers, who are crawling close to the earth to pick up the' Almighty Dollar.

Later. —Since writing the above. Mrs. Bennett has held a “vindication” seance. The Herald's full account of the proceedings is republished on another page. According to the “veteran” Uncle Thomas' theory, and his organ, the Banner of Light, the results are explainable on the ground that some members of the party went expecting to take up the floor, and expecting to find a woman underneath, consequently they saw what they expected to see and found the materialized spirit there. That it should have been a tangible flesh and blood woman, having a local habitation and a name, (and a bad one at that) born, but not buried, does this prove to the “veterans," fraud on the part of the “dear persecuted medium?” No! never. It was a “spiritual manifestation.” Some “evil spirits” through a mysterious process, placed the woman there to injure the reputation (?) of the medium (?) This may seem like badinage to our readers, but there are persons claiming to possess a fair share of reason and common sense who have advanced, and are advancing theories and explanations fully as ridiculous as the above.

That this Mrs. Bennett should attempt to continue the shameful farce in the face of the glaring expose made a week ago, that she should play such a desperate game, and take a risk where detection was sure if a careful investigation was made, only points strongly and unmistakably to the fact that some prominent individuals are at work to stem the rushing tide of enquiry that is destined to sweep away all the drift wood of sensuality, imposture and corruption that coyer the surface of Spiritualism, and show the bright waters in all their purity, with the glistening sands of truth beneath. Who these persons are, and what their object is, whether they themselves as individuals are not above criticism, and knowing this fact ward off the opening touches that sooner or later will clasp them in its searching embrace, we leave our readers to determine. We fear not the truth and will follow wherever it may lead. Spiritualism can never be exposed; but the hypocrites, libertines and impostors who are sailing under its flag, will soon step from the quarter deck down to the guard room.

<Untitled> (Alfred R. Wallace says)

Alfred R. Wallace says the fact that legible writing occurred on the clean slate when held entirely in my own hand while Dr. Slade’s hands were both on the table and held by my other hand, such writing being distinctly audible while in progress, and the further fact that Dr. Slade’s knees were always in sight, and that the slate was never rested upon them at all, render it quite impossible for me to accept the explanation of Prof. Lankester and Dr. Donkin as applicable to any portion of the phenomena witnessed by me.

Banner of Light

Huxley and Slade: Who is More Guilty of "False Pretences"?

To the Editor of the Banner of Light:

Sir,—As I see the issue that has been raised by Dr. Hallock with Mr. Huxley, it suggests to me the comparison of two men looking at the same distant object through a telescope. The Doctor, having taken the usual precautions, brings the object within close range where it can be studied at one’s leisure; but the naturalist, having forgotten to remove the cap, sees only the reflection of his own image.

Though the materialists may find it hard to answer even the brief criticisms of the Doctor, yet it appears that Mr. Huxley’s New York lectures- as they present themselves to me in their naked desolation—suggest one paramount idea which Dr. Hallock has not touched upon. I need scarcely say to you, who must have read the report of these would-be iconoclastic lectures, that this idea is one of the “false pretenses” of modern science. After all the flourish which attended his coming, all the expectations that had been aroused, all the secret apprehensions of the church and the anticipated triumph of the materialists, what did he teach us that was really new or so extremely suggestive? Nothing, positively nothing. Exclude a sight of his personality, the sound of his well-trained voice, the reflection of his scientific glory, and the result may be summed up thus: “Cr.: Thomas H. Huxley, £1,000.”

Of him it may be said, as it has of other teachers before, that what he said that was new was not true; and that which was true was not new. Without going into details, for the moment it suffices to say that the materialistic theory of evolution is far from being demonstrated, while the thought that Mr. Huxley does not grasp—i.e., the double evolution of spirit and matter—is imparted under the form of various legends in the oldest parts of the Rig-Veda (the Aitareya-Brâhmana). Only the benighted Hindus, it seems, made the trifling improvement over modern science, of hooking a First Cause on the further end of the chain of evolution.

In the Chaturhôtri Mantra (Book V, ch. iv, § 23, of the Aitareya-Brâhmana ) the Goddess Earth (iyam), who is termed the Queen of the Serpents (sarpa-râjñî), for she is the mother of everything that moves (sarpat), was in the beginning of time completely bald. She was nothing but one round head, which was soft to the touch (i.e., a “gelatinous mass”). Being distressed at her baldness, she called for help to the great Vâyu, the Lord of the airy regions; she prayed him to teach her the Mantra (invocation or sacrificial prayer, a certain part of the Veda), which would confer on her the magical power of creating things (generation). He complied, and then as soon as the Mantra was pronounced by her “in the proper metre” she found herself covered with hair (vegetation). She was now hard to the touch, for the Lord of the air had breathed upon her—(the globe had cooled) . She had become of a variegated or motley appearance, and suddenly acquired the power <... continues on page 1-188 >

Editor's notes

  1. Alfred R. Wallace says by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 5, No. 6, October 12, 1876, p. 70
  2. Huxley and Slade: Who is More Guilty of "False Pretences"? by Blavatsky, H. P., Banner of Light, vol. XL No. 5, October 28, 1876, p. 1
    This is published in "A Modern Panarion", p. 88 as "Huxley and Slade.". – Archivist