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vol. 3, p. 11
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< The Firman Fiasco in Paris (continued from page 3-10) >

ceiling. True, it may be supposed that there was imposture at Dr. Huguet’s, though the phenomena were genuine on the other occasions. But why so superfluous a false personation with a difficult make-up, when the medium had only to let the real Kibosh, or Frank, show for himself? And how could Firman within those few rapid moments, under the grasp of the angry lady, have got rid of such articles as a mask, gloves, and feather head-dress, without being arrested in the act, and such fatal proofs triumphantly seized and detained? One of the spectators (who has since regretted having been led with a levity repented of to sign the proces verbal) describes the scene as having been one of great excitement, amid outcries of anger, in which “every one saw what he wanted to see,” meaning what he supposed. And the same gentleman says that when they all rushed immediately up with the light Firman’s face and hands were white. Frank has since said that he had no time to make the shawl invisible before he vanished himself. The recess itself is not larger than a closet. It is easily conceivable how the lady, in the dark, may have grasped Firman and pulled him to the ground, and how the then immediate disappearance of Frank, leaving the shawl and piece of muslin dropped on the half-prostrate medium, may have caused her to believe that she had realized that which was her belief in advance, that the Firman in her hands was the person who had worn the shawl, and falsely personated the vanished dwarf. And on her saying so, how could the spectators, most of them also prepossessed with the same conviction, have failed to show that belief?

It is a not immaterial point in the case that the declarations of the Firmans were made and sent for publication to the American Register before the descent of the police on his residence and his arrest, which took place on Thursday. He had invited a number of persons, besides myself, including three journalists, to witness on Friday another seance which was to be under test conditions, and at which the appearance of the spirit and himself, distinct and separate while simultaneous, was expected, as it had already four times been witnessed by the four persons above referred to. And I know that he intended, on a subsequent occasion, to invite Dr. Huguet himself to witness the same demonstration of his innocence of the presumption, which I conclude by repeating that I believe to be nothing more than a case of strongly apparent but really delusive appearances against him.

He is now in the hands of a juge d'instruction, or examining magistrate, to whom all Spiritualism is juggling on the one side and dupery on the other. This process of what is termed Vinstruction is secret, and not even his wife is allowed to see him. His case is of course prejudiced by its coincidence with that of the photographer Buguet, who has unquestionably been long practising a system of abominable fraud, and in whose place the police found a draped'mannikin figure and a vast number of heads prepared to be employed with it. (Nothing suspicious was found at Firman’s.) The key to his case is simple. He is a real and powerful photographic medium. Count Bullet has received through him the spirit likenesses of some half-dozen members of his family, wholly unknown to Buguet. He has been perfectly successful under test conditions, with incredulous other photographers accompanying him through all the stages of the process, and even conducting it throughout themselves, with their own glasses. Buguet was always willing that they should come with their own instruments. But this honest practice could not bring in money enough for his considerable needs. He could not take more than half a dozen true spirit portraits a day, and the operation was very exhausting. Often he could not do anything. The auri sacra fames tempted him, in evil hour for himself, to imagine a system of taking sham spirit-pictures without the presence of a sitter, and with the mere presence of a photographic portrait of the applicant. These never failed, of course, and his correspondence is stated to have extended even as far as China. Of course these were frauds, and it was a matter of small consequence to him that the deceived applicants could not recognise the supposed spiritfaces which deigned to appear beside their cartes-de-visite. He will undoubtedly have a sentence not more severe than he unfortunately deserves. But there was no connection between him and Firman, nor ought there to be between their cases.

J. L. O’Sullivan.

Paris, April 23rd, 1875.

Important Caution to Slanderers


<Untitled> (The London Spiritual Magazine, in noticing D. D. Home's book)


Little Things

Shadows o’er the valley straying,
Serve the passing clouds to show ;
Ripples o’er the surface playing,
May reflect the depths below.

Little acts show deeper feeling,
Careless words the mind betray ;
Thus are we ourselves revealing
Tn the things we do and say.

E. T. Bush

Editor's notes

  1. Important Caution to Slanderers by Britten, E. H., Banner of Light
  2. The London Spiritual Magazine, in noticing D. D. Home's book by unknown author
  3. Little Things by Bush, E. T.