vol. 3, p. 6
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< Mrs. Denton Again in the Field (continued from page 3-5) >

is proven by these phenomena—to the departure from scientific methods indulged in in these investigations by men whose very names should have been a guarantee of scientific accuracy, and to the illogical methods by which the claim that these phenomena are the result of disembodied “spirit action, spirit intelligence and spirit power” is said to be established.

Mr. Editor, the proposition out of which this controversy has grown, is to the effect that Spiritualism, unlike Christianity, rests on a proven or provable basis; a basis of demonstrable fact, and not of faith. I have attempted to show that in order to prove the correctness of this claim Spiritualism must not only prove the genuineness of its phenomena, but it must prove (as Christianity should have been required to do of its phenomena), that their occurrence is due to organized, conscious intelligence, existing outside and independent of all human activities; and I think I have shown this. Can you tell me, then, why it is that my critics, while they persistently condemn my conclusions, have at no time attempted to show me the fallacies of that reasoning by which my conclusions are reached? Why does not Dr. Buchanan— why do not you—why does not any Spiritualist who is capable of reasoning, endeavor to show me in what my error consists? Dr. Buchanan’s plea that it is “too great a waste of time,” is, to say the least, an unworthy rebuff to admitted honesty. Beside, insult is not argument, and “scorn” is not often convincing to one who has reached a conclusion by honest endeavor to arrive at the truth.

Respectfully, &c.,
Elizabeth M. F. Denton.

Wellesley, Aug. 2d, 1876.

Cruelty to Women

To the Editor of the Banner of Light:

Do we progress? or are we going back to barbarism? Societies have been formed to protect horses from unkind treatment, and much good have they done; but is it not time that something should be done for the protection of a class of young women? We refer to the outrageously selfish practice of some storekeepers, of obliging their female employees to stand from morning till evening—sometimes well into the evening— that they may be a little more ready to attend to customers, and perhaps put a few more shillings into their pockets. This is one of the most barbarous practices of the age, for it is not only unnecessarily overtaxing the physical system, but it is subjecting young women to physiological troubles which they may never rid themselves of. This parsimonious store discipline is more severe than that of a man of war, or of State Prison, and ought to be abolished. Why, most dogs and family cats receive better usage! How can a man who has a portion of heart within his breast look mother, wife, or daughter in the face, after subjecting women to such treatment?

Appeals have been made through the press in vain to these despots, who are often professed Christians, believing in the “Thirty-nine articles’’ and dally player, little realizing that an, ounce of practical Christianity is worth pounds or professed. Is there no remedy for this abuse or power? There would be if these ill used women could afford to refuse to labor for these tyrants; as they cannot, they only way to break up this inhuman practice is for purchasers to stop patronizing stores where women are tortured. That these employers who will not allow their assistants to sit—let business be as dull as it may—may come to grief, if they do not mend their ways, is the sincere wish of one who would like to see a little more.
Practical Christianity.

Dr. Buchanan on Speculative Vagaries

To the Editor of the Banner or Light:

Mrs. Denton, in the Banner of August 19th, asks me, with great apparent gravity and earnestness, to show her the fallacy or absurdity of her supposition that all marvelous spiritual phenomena are produced solely by the inherent powers of the persons present (mediums and others), and may therefore be but an unconscious efflux of their occult and unsuspected powers.

There is no occasion for pointing out or explaining a fallacy or, absurdity which is as conspicuous as the Boston Common, and which decidedly surpasses the vagaries of transcendentalism.

The transcendentalist says that all the visible universe is nothing but the play of thought in his own mind, and has no objective evidence or reality, for if he had not a mind, the universe would not exist so far as he is concerned. A Boston transcendentalist is said to have remarked that one should not say, “It rains, it snows,” but should say, “I rain, I snow.” So, according to Mrs. Denton, the medium should say, “I am Franklin, I am Washington, I am Honto, I am three or four persons at once, and myself at the same time." But the medium is not able to perceive it, nor is anybody else.

The supposition that any persons have such Godlike endowments as to be able to create half-a-dozen human beings of different ages, sexes, nationalities and races, cover them with varied and appropriate costumes, sometimes rich, rare, and costly, and set them to walking, talking, singing, dancing, playing on musical instruments, writing, or drawing, so as to embody innumerable peculiarities of the manners, thoughts, and intelligence of the human beings formerly living of whom they are fac similes, while these Godlike wonder-workers are themselves unconscious of the effort and unconscious of what has been done, is too preposterous, even for Mrs. Denton to believe it seriously, although she discusses the matter with an air of severe earnestness.

These fanciful vagaries can hardly be stated without a smile at their ingenious absurdity. To be consistent, Mrs. D. should maintain that when meteoric stones are seen to fall to the earth the cause of their production and falling must have been in the occult powers of the persons who were present, or were in the vicinity where they fell, as there is always somebody on the continent where they fall; and she may defy us to prove that they did not create and bring down these stones by their unconscious occult powers.

We might as well undertake to prove to her logical satisfaction that Prof. Denton is an independent, real existence, and not a mere manifestation of the occult powers of her mind, our minds, and the minds of the audiences before whom he appears in a materialized form; for Prof. D. does not exhibit a more perfect reality of person, voice, volition and independent intelligence, than the spirits who have appeared in materialized forms.

The suggestion that the spirits who have appeared in bodily form have been destitute of respectable intelligence, is simply a misstatement of facts, as all Spiritualists know. As for feeble or foolish mediumistic writing, the spirit world is seldom responsible for it.

But it is a waste of time to discuss these vagaries seriously; and in fact Mrs. D.’s real position is that the evidence of materialization is not sufficient to preclude the theory of fraud by mere mechanical trickery—which is simply a wholesale denunciation of many of the wisest, best, shrewdest and most careful and conscientious men and women of the present age (many of them heroic martyrs for truth) as fools or knaves, tricksters or dupes—an assumption unworthy of her intelligence and unworthy of discussion in these columns, which are overflowing every week with unquestionable facts of the highest importance to humanity.

J. R. Buchanan.

Louisville, August 27, 1876.

Elementary Spirits, Art-Magic, &e


What is a Dream?


Editor's notes

  1. Cruelty to Women by Practical Christianity, Banner of Light, The, v. 39, No. 21, August 19, 1876, p. 2
  2. Dr. Buchanan on Speculative Vagaries by Buchanan, J. R., Banner of Light, The, v. 39, No. 24, September 9, 1876, p. 5
  3. Elementary Spirits, Art-Magic, &e by Britten, E. H., Banner of Light, The
  4. What is a Dream? by unknown author, Banner of Light, The (?)