Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
To the Editor of The Spiritual Scientist:
I observe in your last a paragraph relative to the testing of the Eddys by Col. Olcott, in which it is made to appear that sufficient opportunities were not allowed that gentleman to fully test these mediums. From my knowledge of the matter, based upon a fortnight’s experience at Mr. Eddy's residence, I consider the remark that Col. Olcott “could not obtain what he desired in the manner that he desired,” wholly unwarranted and uncalled for.*
To my mind there is a great deal of unnecessary fuss made about testing mediums, and when, as in the case of the Eddys, the manifestations are given under such conditions that the facts speak for themselves. I cannot wonder at the mediums objecting to a lot of ridiculous expedients being resorted to for the sake of proving what it is unnecessary to prove.
As an illustration of what I mean I will just refer to a case or two in point. When Mrs. Fay first came to London I satisfied myself as to the genuineness of her mediumship by simply holding her hands. Since that time doubts have entertained on all sides about this lady’s mediumship, and when I arrived in this country I \was surprised to heat her set down as a decided fraud both by mediums and non mediums, especially by the former, who, I am sorry to say, are generally the first to disparage the mediumship of others: but all this did hot shake my faith in her. And now it seems Mr. Crookes has recently settled the vexed question by scientific appliance—by galvanometers; but what he has done proved no more than I proved a twelve wonth before, by simply taking hold of the lady’s hands.
Then again, with regard to Mrs. Thayer, the public have heard how, in order to remove the doubts that existed with regard to this lady’s mediumship, she was put into a bag, having been previously stripped of her clothes, which of course was a useless preceding, and under these circumstances birds and a variety of flowers was produced, not by Mrs. Thayer as the newspapers express it, but by a power outside of her. Now what is the result of this subjecting of Mrs. Thayer to “test conditions?” It may have satisfied those who knew, and had confidence in, the parties present, but it does not satisfy outsiders, who say, and naturally too, that she should have been tested by non-spiritualists, at best, it only proves what I proved a few evenings before by the simply expedient of holding the lady’s hands. As a proof of he truth of what I say I understand it is now proposed to have a seance at which not only the medium but those who assist, as the French say, are to be bagged! And when this has been done will the public at large be satisfied? No, the seance will only produce a relative effect and Mrs. Thayer will have to be bagged a great many times if the world is so[?] be convinced in this way.
But with regard to the Eddys. It appears to me that their ordinary methods of demonstration are amply sufficient without any special testing. Take the materialization seances of William Eddy. What would be gained by tying the medium's ears with thread or adopting other devices to fix the medium when it is obvious from the great variety of figures that appear, differing in height and size and general appearance, that these figures cannot possibly be personated by the medium; and that the cabinet has dothing to do with it Col. Olcott admits, for on one occasion, at the gentleman’s request, a different room to that generally used was tried with the same results. Then again the seances of Horatio are equally conclusive. In the dark circle a test is given by allowing a person to sit on his knees which proves that he does not move from his position; and in the light circle the position of the medium is seen all the time and physical effects are observable far beyond his reach seen that obviously belong to no mortal present. Such being the case the adoption of tests is clearly unnecessary, and if the Eddy's once began to admit them, the whims and crotchets of every conceited “investigator” would have to be yielded to the equanimity of the mediums would be upset, ill-temper engendered, and no satisfactory result produced. People are apt to lose sight of the fact that these displays of spirit power are the work of spirits, and that the mediums are merely instruments through whom the manifestations are given. I remember when I was with the Davenports that these mediums, when tests were proposed, would sometimes ask the opinion of the spirits, generally, however, they would be ruled by their impressions, which is probably the case with the Eddys. To pronounce these mediums ‘‘boorish'’ because they would not be harnessed by scientific (?) tests seems to me wholly gratuitous. There are cases when the adoption of tests, as in the cast of the Holmeses, is necessary; and I would not underrate the value of the part Mr. Crookes has taken in the matter, and the importance of the services has rendered to the case. His testimony to the truth is doubtless of great value, hut it does not satisfy everybody. Personal evidence what most persons want and with nothing less will they be satisfied. When I first commenced my investigations I used to think what a fine thing it would be to convert Faraday and set at work to do so, but he politely “declined to go into the matter.” Subsequent experience has taught me that if Prof. Faraday had gone into Spiritualism and pronounced in its favor that the worid would have said be was in his dotage. In a matter of this kind, authority does not carry much weight. There are already plenty of great names to endorse Spiritualism.
I remain your, faithfully,
* The paragraph to which Mr. Cooper refers was taken from die Religio Philosophical Journal, and published with our сomments that “it was a trifle inconsistent and unjust.’’ We mention this lest a casual reader should suppose we cast a doubt. Mr. Cooper may have been satisfied with the genuineness of Miss Fay’s mediumship, but even he selected as his “test conditions” the holding of her hands; this may have been satisfactory to him but does he think it can compare in scientific value with the experiment of Mr. Crookes? Mr. Crookes settled it for the public—Mr. Cooper settled if for is individual self. Mr. Cooper may not believe in bagging tire medium, but it seems he was promptly on hand to witness the “bagging.” He says the public at large are not satisfied; but we say that a large number of Spiritualists who have confidence in his integrity and those present with him on this occasion to which he refers, have now faith in Mrs. Thayer's pretensions, which they could not have before. Indeed we have heard it so declared again and again by some of those present. The test, while perfectly convincing did not interfere with the medium’s powers. So with the Eddys or Davenports; the manifestations are given for a purpose, and that purpose the demonstration of the continued existence of the spirit. It is our experience that the strongest skeptics in time make the best Spiritualists; and also that the spirit world is ever ready to respond to an honest heart wishing for a convincing sign. We do not advocate burning wax, gags, racks, or any other unnecessary torture; but we do exhort Spiritualists and investigators to demand such simple conditions as will satisfy them of the genuineness of the phenomena. Even Mr. Robert Cooper, who saw an individual pass himself into a closed box, accepted it as a spiritual phenomena. But a simple experiment did not interfere with the medium’s(?) comfort, but exposed the trick, and broke up the business. A little more “bagging,” we say, indiscriminately applied.—Ed<itor>
The Power of Spirits over Common Matter
Sir,—Your correspondent B. P. J. suggests that superior spirits possess a mental power over matter, which finds mechanical expression by means of spirits of a lower order.
Once, when conversing on this subject with a frequent reader at these rooms, the idea was thrown out that the highest spirits of all have absolute power, direct and indirect, over both mind and matter; witness the striking physical manifestations produced through the mediumship (may it be called ?) of the Founder of Christianity. “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him ?”
May not our spiritual influence or psychic force have a direct action upon a similar force residing, though hidden, in all material things, and by means of which, without the intervention of spirits, many of the physical phenomena are produced? Professor Perty calls it the “magic force in man.” Or is it more reasonable to suppose that Christ was continually surrounded by spirits of various grades to do His bidding, and that when he walked upon the water, He did so, not by virtue of any power within Himself, but by means of extraneous support from physical spirits ?
- The Raven by Poe, Edgar Allan
- Testing Mediums by Cooper, Robert, Spiritual Scientist
- For Olcott’s reply - see following page
- The Power of Spirits over Common Matter by unknown author