vol. 1, p. 24
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 1 (1874-1876)


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< Who Fabricates? (continued from page 1-23) >

the list of pertinent questions, which are called by our disingenuous friend “fabrications,” with at least ONE FACT, I will now proceed to furnish your readers with the following:

“Katie’s” picture has been, let us say, proved a fraud, an imposition on the credulous world, and is Mrs. White’s portrait. This counterfeit has been proved by the beauty of the “crooking elbow,” in her bogus autobiography (the proof sheets of which Dr. Child was seen correcting) by the written confession of the Holmeses and—lastly by Dr. Child himself.

Out of the several bogus portraits of the supposed spirit, the most spurious one, has been declared—mostly on the testimony endorsed by Dr. Child and “over his signature”—to be the one where the pernicious and false Katie King is standing behind her medium.

The operation of this delicate piece of imposture, proved so difficult as to oblige the Holmeses to take into the secret of the conspiracy the photographer.

Now Dr. Child denies having anything whatever to do with the sittings for those pictures. He denies it most emphatically, and goes so far as to say (we have many witnesses and proofs to that), that he was out of town, four hundred miles away, when the said pictures were taken. And so he was, bless his dear prophetic soul! Meditating and chatting with the nymphs and goblins of Niagara Falls, so that, when he pleads an alibi, it’s no “fabrication” but the truth for once.

Unfortunately for the veracious Dr. Child, “whose character and reputation for truthfulness and moral integrity no one doubts”—

(Here we quote the words of “Honesty” and “Truth,” transparent pseudonyms of an “amateur” for detecting, exposing and writing under the cover of secrecy, who tried to give a friendly push to the doctor in two articles—but failed in both.)—

Unfortunately for H. T. Child, we say, he got inspired in some evil hour to write a certain article, and forgetting the wise motto, Verba volant, scripta manent, to publish it in The Daily Graphic on the 16th of November last, together with the portraits of John and Katie King.

Now for this bouquet of the endorsement of a fact by a truthful man, “whose moral integrity no one can doubt.”

“To the Editor of The Daily Graphic.”

“On the evening of July 20th, after a large and successful séance, in which Katie had walked out into the room in the presence of thirty persons and had disappeared and reappeared in full view, she remarked to Mr. Leslie and myself that if we, with four others whom she named, would remain after the séance, she would like to try for her photograph. We did so, and there were present six persons besides the photographer. I had procured two dozen magnesium spirals and when all was ready, she opened the door of the cabinet and stood in it, while Mr. Holmes on one side, and I upon the other, burned these, making a brilliant light. We tried two plates, but neither of them were satisfactory.”

“Another effort was made on the 23rd of July, which was successful. We asked her if she would try to have it taken by daylight. She said she would. We sat with shutters open at four o’clock p.m. In a few moments, Katie appeared at the aperture and said she was ready. She asked to have one of the windows closed, and that we should hold a shawl to screen her. As soon as the camera was ready she came out and walked behind the shawl to the middle of the room, a distance of six or eight feet, where she stood in front of the camera. She remained in that position until the first picture was taken, when she retired to the cabinet.”

“Mr. Holmes proposed that she should permit him to sit in front of the camera, and should come out and place her hand upon his shoulder. To this she assented and desired all present to avoid looking into her eyes, as this disturbed the conditions very much. . . .”

The second picture was then taken in which she stands behind Mr. Holmes. When the camera was closed, she showed great signs of weakness, and it was necessary to assist her back to the cabinet, and when she got to the door she appeared ready to sink to the floor and disappeared (?). The cabinet door was opened, but she was not to be seen. In a few minutes she appeared again, and remarked that she had not been sufficiently materialized and said she would like to try again, if we could wait a little while. We waited about fifteen minutes, when she rapped on the cabinet, signifying that she was ready to come out. She did so, and we obtained the third negative.”

(Signed) Dr. H. T. Child.

And so, Dr. Child, we have obtained this, we did that, and we did many other things. Did you? Now, besides Dr. Child’s truthful assertions about his being out of town, especially at the time this third negative was obtained, we have the testimony of the photographer, Dr. Selger, and other witnesses to corroborate the fact. At the same time, I suppose that Dr. Child will not risk a denial of his own article. I have it in my possession and keep it, together with many others as curious, printed like it, and written in black and white. Who fabricates stories? Can the Doctor answer?

How will he creep out of this dilemma? What rays of his spiritual “sunshine” will be able to dematerialize such a contradictory fact as this one? Here we have an article taking up two spacious columns of The Daily Graphic, in which he asserts as plainly as possible, that he was present himself at the sittings of Katie King for her portrait; that the spirit came out boldly, in full daylight, that she disappeared on the threshold of the cabinet, and that he, Dr. Child, helping her back to it on account of her great weakness, saw that there was no one in the said cabinet, for the door remained opened. Who did he help? Whose fluttering heart beat against his paternal arm and waistcoat? Was it the bonny Eliza? Of course, backed by such reliable testimony, of such a truly trustworthy witness, the pictures sold like wildfire. Who got the proceeds? Who kept them? If Dr. Child was not in town when the pictures were taken, then this article is an “evident fabrication.” On the other hand, if what he says in it is truth, and he was present at all, at the attempt of this bogus picture taking, then he certainly must have known “who was who, in 1874,” as the photographer knew it, and as surely it did not require Argus-eyes to recognize in full daylight, with only one shutter partially closed, a materialized, ethereal spirit, from a common, “elbow-crooking” mortal woman, whom, though not acquainted with her, the doctor still “knew her well.”

If our self-constituted leaders, our prominent recorders of the phenomena, will humbug and delude the public with such reliable statements as this one, how can we Spiritualists wonder at the masses of incredulous scoffers that keep on politely taking us for “lunatics” when they do not very rudely call us “liars and charlatans” to our faces? It is not the occasionally cheating “mediums” that have impeded or can impede the progress of our cause; it’s the exalted exaggerations of some fanatics on one hand and the deliberate, unscrupulous statements of those, who delight [in] dealing in “wholesale fabrications” and “pious frauds” that have arrested the unusually rapid spreading of Spiritualism in 1874, and brought it to a dead stop in 1875. For how many years to come yet, who can tell?

In his “After the Storm the Sunshine,” the Doctor makes the following melancholy reflection:

“It has been suggested that going into an atmosphere of fraud, such as surrounds these mediums (the Holmeses) and being sensitive [O, poor Yorick!] I was more liable to be deceived than others.”

We shudder indeed at the thought of the exposure of so much sensitiveness to so much pollution! Alas, soiled dove! How very sensitive must a person be who picks up such evil influences that they actually force him into the grossest of fabrications, and which make him invent stories and endorse facts that he has not and could not have seen. If Dr. Child, victim to his too sensitive nature, is liable to fall so easily as that under the control of wicked “Diakka” our friendly advice to him is, to give up Spiritualism as soon as possible, and join the Young Men’s Christian Association; for then, under the protecting wing of the true Orthodox Church, he can begin a regular fight, like a second St. Anthony, with the Orthodox Devil. Such Diakka, as he fell in with at the Holmeses, must beat Old Nick by long odds, and if he could not withstand them by the unaided strength of his own pure soul, he may with “bell, book and candle,” and the use of holy water, be more fortunate in a tug with Satan; crying as other “Father Confessors” have heretofore, “Exorciso vos in nomine Lucis !” and signifying his triumph, with a robust “Laus Deo !”

H. P. Blavatsky.
Philadelphia, March, 1875.