William Eglinton

 Medium William Eglinton


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 William Eglinton Medium

 1857 - 1933


William Eglinton producing a fully materialised Spirit whilst in a trance state in 1878.



THERE IS NO DEATH  by   Florence Marryat


In the stories I have related of Emily and The Monk' I have alluded freely to the wonderful powers exhibited by William Eglinton, but the marvels there spoken of were by no means the only ones I have witnessed through his mediumship. At the seance which produced the apparition of my sister Emily, Mr. Eglinton's control Joey made himself very familiar. Joey is a remarkably small man--perhaps two thirds lighter in weight than the Medium--and looks more


like a little jockey than anything else, though he says he was a clown whilst in this world, and claims to be the spirit of the immortal Joe Grimaldi. He has always appeared to us clothed in a tight-fitting white dress like a woven jersey suit, which makes him look still smaller than he is. He usually keeps up a continuous chatter, whether visible or invisible, and is one of the cleverest and kindest controls I know. He is also very devotional, for which the public will perhaps give him as little credit now as they did whilst he was on earth. On the first occasion of our meeting in the Russell Street Rooms he did not show himself until quite the last, but he talked incessantly of and for the other spirits that appeared. My sister was, as I have said, the first to show herself---then came an extraordinary apparition. On the floor, about three feet from the cabinet, appeared a head---only the head and throat of a dark man, with black beard and moustaches, surmounted by a white turban usually worn by natives. It did not speak, but the eyes rolled and the lips moved, as if it tried to articulate, but without success. Joey said the spirit came for Colonel Lean, and was that of a foreigner who had been decapitated. Colonel Lean could not recognize the features; but, strange to say, he had been present at the beheading of two natives in Japan who had been found guilty of murdering some English officers, and we concluded from Joey's description that this must be the head of one of them. I knelt down on the floor and put my face on a level with that of the spirit, that I might assure myself there was no body attached to it and concealed by the curtain of the cabinet, and I can affirm that it was a head only, resting on the neck---that its eyes moved and its features worked, but that there was nothing further on the floor. I questioned it, and it evidently tried hard to speak in return. The mouth opened and the tongue was thrust out, and made a sort of dumb sound, but was unable to form any words, and after a while the head sunk through the floor and disappeared. If this was not one of the pleasantest apparition,


I have seen, it was one of the most remarkable. There was no possibility of trickery or deception. The decapitated head rested in full sight of the audience, and had all the peculiarities of the native appearance and expression. After this the figures of two or three Englishmen came, friends of others of the audience---then Joey said he would teach us how to make muslin. He walked right outside the cabinet, a quaint little figure, not much bigger than a boy of twelve or thirteen, with a young, old face, and dressed in the white suit I have described. He sat down by me and commenced to toss his hands in the air, as though he were juggling with balls, saying the while, This is the way we make ladies' dresses. As he did so, a small quantity of muslin appeared in his hands, which he kept on moving in the same manner, whilst the flimsy fabric increased and increased before our eyes, until it rose in billows of muslin above Joey's head and fell over his body to his feet, and enveloped him until he was completely hidden from view. He kept on chattering till the last moment from under the heap of snowy muslin, telling us to be sure and remember how he made ladies' dresses---when, all of a sudden, in the twinkling of an eye, the heap of muslin rose into the air, and before us stood the tall figure of Abdullah, Mr. Eglinton's Eastern guide. There had been no darkness, no pause to effect this change. The muslin had remained on the spot where it was fabricated until Joey evaporated, and Abdullah rose up from beneath it. Now Abdullah is not a spirit to be concealed easily. He is six foot two---a great height for a native---and his high turban adds to his stature. He is a very handsome man, with an aquiline nose and bright black eyes---a Persian, I believe, by birth, and naturally dark in complexion. He does not speak English, but salaams continually, and will approach the sitters when requested, and let them examine the jewels, of which he wears a large quantity in his turban and ears and round his throat, or to show them and let them feel that he has lost one arm, the


stump being plainly discernible through his thin clothing. Abdullah possesses all the characteristics of the Eastern nation, which are unmistakable to one who, like myself, has been familiar with them in the flesh. His features are without doubt those of a Persian; so is his complexion. His :figure is long and lithe and supple, as that of a cat, and he can bend to the ground and rise again with the utmost ease and grace. Anybody who could pretend for a moment to suppose that Mr. Eglinton by making up could personate Abdullah must be a fool. It would be an impossibility, even were he given unlimited time and assistance, to dress for the character. There is a peculiar boneless elasticity in the movements of a native which those who have lived in the East know that no Englishmen can imitate successfully. Abdullah's hands and feet also possess all the characteristics of his nationality, being narrow, long and nerveless, although I have heard that he can give rather too good a grip with his one hand when he chooses to exert his power or to show his dislike to any particular sitter. He has always, however, shown the utmost urbanity towards us, but he is not a particularly friendly or familiar spirit. When Abdullah had retired on this occasion, Joey drew back the curtain that shaded the cabinet, and showed us his medium and himself. There sat Mr. Eglinton attired in evening dress, with the front of his shirt as smooth and spotless as when it left the laundress' hands, lying back in his chair in a deep sleep, whilst little Joey sat astride his knee, his white suit contrasting strangely with his medium's black trousers. Whilst in this position he kissed Mr. Eglinton several times, telling him to wake up, and not look so sulky; then, having asked if we all saw him distinctly, and were satisfied he was not the medium, he bade God bless us, and the curtains closed once more upon this incomprehensible scene. Mr. Eglinton subsequently became an intimate friend of ours, and we often had the pleasure of sitting with him, but we never saw anything more wonderful (to my mind) than we


did on our first acquaintance. When he accompanied us to Bruges (as told in the history of the Monk), Joey took great trouble to prove to us incontrovertibly that he is not an emanantion, or double, of his medium, but a creature completely separate and wholly distinct. My sister's house being built on a very old-fashioned principle, had all the bedrooms communicating with each other. The entresol in which we usually assembled formed the connecting link to a series of six chambers, all of which opened into each other, and the entrance to the first and last of which was from the entresol.

We put Mr. Eglinton into No.1, locking the connecting door with No.2, so that he had no exit except into our circle as we sat round the curtain, behind which we placed his chair. Joey having shown himself outside the curtain, informed us he was going through the locked door at the back into our bedrooms, Nos. 2, 3 and 4, and would bring us something from each room.

Accordingly, in another minute we heard his voice in No. 2, commenting on all he saw there; then he passed into No. 3, and so on, making a tour of the rooms, until he appeared at the communicating door of No. 5, and threw an article taken from each room into the entresol. He then told us to lift the curtain and inspect the Medium, which we did, finding him fast asleep in his chair, with the door behind him locked. Joey then returned by the way he had gone, and presented himself once more outside the cabinet, the key of the locked door being all the time in our possession.

Ernest is another well-known control of Mr. Eglinton's, though he seldom appears, except to give some marvellous test or advice. He is a very earnest, deep-feeling spirit, like his name, and his symbol is a cross of light; sometimes large and sometimes small, but always bright and luminous. Ernest seldom shows his whole body. It is generally only his face that is apparent in the midst of the circle, a more convincing manifestation for the sceptic or inquirer than any number of


bodies which are generally attributed to the chicanery of the Medium. Ernest always speaks in the direct voice in a gentle, bass tone, entirely distinct from Joey's treble, and his appearance is usually indicative of a harmonious and successful meeting. Daisy, a North American Indian girl, is another control of William Eglinton's, but I have only heard her speak in trance. I do not know which of these Spirits it is who conducts the manifestations of writing on the arm, with which Mr. Eglinton is very successful; sometimes it seems to be one, and sometimes the other. As he was sitting with our family at supper one evening, I mentally asked Joey to write something on some part of his body where his hand could not reach. This was in order to prove that the writing had not been prepared by chemical means beforehand, as some people are apt to assert. In a short time Mr. Eglinton was observed to stop eating, and grow very fidgety and look Uncomfortable, and on being questioned as to the cause, he blushed and stammered, and could give no answer. After a while he rose from table, and asked leave to retire to his room. The next morning he told us that he had been so uneasy at supper, it had become impossible for him to sit it out; that on reaching his room he had found that his back, which irritated him as though covered with a rash, had a sentence written across it, of which he could only make out a few words by looking at it backwards in a glass; and as there were only ladies in the house beside himself he could not call in an interpreter to his assistance. One day, without consulting him, I placed a small card and a tiny piece of black lead between the leaves of a volume of the Leisure Hour, and asked him to hold the book with me on the dining-table. I never let the book out of my hand, and it was so thick that I had difficulty afterwards in finding my card (from the comer of which I had torn a piece) again. Mr. Eglinton sat with me in the daylight with the family about, and all he did was to place his hand on mine, which rested on the book. The perspiration ran down his


face whilst he did so, but there was no other sign of power, and, honestly, I did not expect to find any writing on my card. When I had shaken it out of the leaves of the book, however, I found a letter closely written on it from my daughter Florence to this effect:

Dear Mama,---I am so glad to be able to communicate with you again, and to demonstrate by actual fact that I am really present. Of course, you quite understand that I do not write this myself. 'Charlie' is present with me, and so are many more, and we all unite in sending you our love. Your daughter, Florence.

Mr. Eglinton's mediumship embraces various phases of phenomena, as may be gathered from his own relations of them, and the testimony of his friends. A narrative of his spiritual work, under the title of 'Twixt two Worlds, has been written and published by Mr. John T. Farmer, and contains some exhaustive descriptions of, and testimonies to, his undoubtedly wonderful gifts. In it appear several accounts written by myself, and which, for the benefit of such of my readers as have not seen the book in question I will repeat here. The first is that of the Monk, given in extenso, as I have given it in the eleventh chapter of this book. The second is of a seance held on the 5th September, 1884. The circle consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Stewart, Colonel and Mrs. Wyche Mr. and Mrs. Russell-Davies, Mr. Morgan, and Colonel Lean and myself, and was held in Mr. Eglinton's private chambers in Quebec Street. We sat in the front drawingroom, with one gas-burner alight, and the door having been properly secured, Mr. Eglinton went into the back room, which was divided by curtains from the front. He had not left us a couple of minutes before a man stepped out through the portiere, and walked right into the midst of us. He was a large, stout man, and very dark, and most of the sitters remarked that he had a very peculiar smell. No one recognized 


him, and after appearing two or three times he left, and was immediately succeeded by a woman, very much like him, who also had to leave us without any recognition. These two spirits, before taking a final leave, came out together, and seemed to examine the circle curiously. After a short interval a much smaller and slighter man came forward, and darted in a peculiar slouching attitude round the circle. Colonel Lean asked him to shake hands. He replied by seizing his hand, and nearly dragging him off his seat. He then darted across the room, and gave a similar proof of his muscular power to Mr. Stewart. But when I asked him to notice me, he took my hand and squeezed it firmly between his own. He had scarcely disappeared before Abdullah, with his one arm and his six feet two of height, stood before us, and salaamed all round. Then came my daughter Florence, a girl of nineteen by that time, very slight and feminine in appearance. She advanced two or three times, near enough to touch me with her hand, but seemed fearful to approach nearer. But the next moment she returned, dragging Mr. Eglinton after her. He was in deep trance, breathing with difficulty, but Florence held him by the hand and brought him up to my side, when he detached my hands from those of the sitters either side of me, and making me stand up, he placed my daughter in my arms. As she stood folded in my embrace, she whispered a few words to me relative to a subject known to no one but myself, and she placed my hand upon her heart, that I might feel she was a living woman. Colonel Lean asked her to go to him. She tried and failed, but having retreated behind the curtain to gather strength, she appeared the second time with Mr. Eglinton, and calling Colonel Lean to her, embraced him. This is one of the most perfect instances on record of a Spirit form being seen distinctly by ten witnesses with the Medium under gas. The next materialization that appeared was for Mr. Stewart. This gentleman was newly arrived from Australia, and a stranger to Mr. Eglinton. As soon as he saw


the female form, who beckoned him to the portiere to speak to her, he exclaimed, My God! Pauline, with such genuine surprise and conviction as were unmistakable. The Spirit then whispered to him, and putting her arms round his neck affectionately kissed him. He turned after a while, and addressing his wife, told her that the spirit bore the very form and features of their niece Pauline, whom they had lost the year before. Mr. Stewart expressed himself entirely satisfied with the identity of his niece, and said she looked just as she had done before she was taken ill. I must not omit to say that the Medium also appeared with this figure, making the third time of showing himself in one evening with the Spirit form.

The next apparition, being the seventh that appeared, was that of a little child apparently about two years old, who supported itself in walking by holding on to a chair. I stooped down, and tried to talk to this baby, but it only cried in a fretful manner, as though frightened at finding itself with strangers, and turned away. The attention of the Circle was diverted from this sight by seeing Abdullah dart between the curtains, and stand with the child in our view, whilst Mr. Eglinton appeared at the same moment between the two forms, making a tria juncta in uno.

Thus ended the seance. The second one of which I wrote took place on the 27th of the same month, and under very similar circumstances. The circle this time consisted of Mrs. Wheeler, Mr. Woods, Mr. Gordon, The Honourable Gordon Sandeman, my daughter Eva, my son Frank, Colonel Lean, and myself Mr. Eglinton appeared on this occasion to find some difficulty in passing under control, and he came out so frequently into the Circle to gather power, that I guessed we were going to have uncommonly good manifestations. The voice of Joey, too, begged us under no circumstances whatever, to lose hands, as they were going to try something very difficult, and we might defeat their efforts at the very moment


of victory. When the Medium was at last under control in the back drawing-room, a tall man, with an uncovered head of dark hair, and a large beard, appeared and walked up to a lady in the company. She was very much affected by the recognition of the Spirit, which she affirmed to be that of her brother. She called him by name and kissed him, and informed us that he was just as he had been in earth life. Her emotion was so great, we thought she would have fainted, but after a while she became calm again. We next heard the notes of a clarionet. I had been told that Mr. Woods (a stranger just arrived from the Antipodes) had lost a brother under peculiarly distressing circumstances, and that he hoped (though hardly expected) to see his brother that evening. It was the first time I had ever seen Mr. Woods; yet so remarkable was the likeness between the brothers, that when a spirit appeared with a clarionet in his hand, I could not help knowing who it was, and exclaimed, Oh, Mr. Woods, there is your brother! The figure walked up to Mr. Woods and grasped his hand. As they appeared thus with their faces turned to one another, they were strikingly alike both in feature and expression. This Spirit's head was also bare, an unusual occurrence, and covered with thick, crisp hair. He appeared twice, and said distinctly, God bless you! each time to his brother. Mrs. Wheeler, who had known the Spirit in earth life, was startled by the tone of the voice, which she recognized at once; and Mr. Morgan, who had been an intimate friend of his in Australia, confirmed the recognition. We asked Mr. Woods the meaning of the clarionet, which was a black one, handsomely inlaid with silver. He told us his brother had been an excellent musician, and had won a similar instrument as a prize at some musical competition. But, he added wonderingly, his clarionet is locked up in my house in Australia. My daughter Florence came out next, but only a little way, at which I was disappointed, but Joey said they were reserving the strength for a manifestation further on. He then said, Here comes a friend


for Mr. Sandeman, and a man, wearing a masonic badge and scarf, appeared, and made the tour of the Circle, giving the masonic grip to those of the craft present. He was a good looking young man, and said he had met some of those present in Australia, but no one seemed to recognize him. He was succeeded by a male figure, who had materialized on the previous occasion. As he passed through the curtain, a female figure appeared beside him, bearing a very bright light, as though to show him the way. She did not come beyond the portiere, but every one in the room saw her distinctly. On account of the dress and complexion of the male figure, we had wrongly christened him The Bedouin but my son, Frank Marryat, who is a sailor, now found out he was an East Indian by addressing him in Hindustani, to which he responded in a low voice. Someone asked him to take a seat amongst us, upon which he seized a heavy chair in one hand and flourished it above his head. He then squatted, native fashion, on his haunches on the floor and left us, as before, by vanishing suddenly.

Joey now announced that they were going to try the experiment of showing us how the spirits were made from the medium. This was the crowning triumph of the evening. Mr. Eglinton appeared in the very midst of us in trance. He entered the room backwards, and as if fighting with the power that pushed him in, his eyes were shut, and his breath was drawn with difficulty. As he stood thus, holding on to a chair for support, an airy mass like a cloud of tobacco smoke was seen on his left hip, his legs became illuminated by lights travelling up and down them, and a white film settled about his head and shoulders. The mass increased.. and he breathed harder and harder whilst invisible hands pulled the filmy drapery out of his hip in long strips, that amalgamated as soon as formed, and fell to the ground to be succeeded by others. The cloud continued to grow thicker, and we were eagerly watching the process, when, in the twinkling of an eye, the


mass had evaporated, and a Spirit, full formed, stood beside him. No one could say how it had been raised in the very midst of us, nor whence it came, but it was there. Mr. Eglinton then retired with the new-born spirit behind the curtains, but in another moment he came (or was thrown out) amongst us again, and fell upon the floor. The curtains opened again, and the full figure of Ernest appeared and raised the Medium by the hand. As he saw him, Mr. Eglinton fell on his knees, and Ernest drew him out of sight. Thus ended the second of these two wonderful seances. The published reports of them were signed with the full names and addresses of those who witnessed them.

William Eglinton's powers embrace various phases of phenomena, amongst which levitation is a common occurrence; indeed, I do not think I have ever sat with him at a seance during which he had not been levitated. I have seen him on several occasions rise, or be carried, into the air, so that his head touched the ceiling, and his feet were above the sitters' heads. On one occasion whilst sitting with him a perfectly new manifestation was developed. As each Spirit came the name was announced, written on the air in letters of fire, which moved round the circle in front of the sitters. As the names were those of friends of the audience and not of friends of Mr. Eglinton, and the phenomenon ended with a letter written to me in the same manner on private affairs, it could not be attributed to a previously arranged trick. I have accompanied Mr. Eglinton, in the capacity of interpreter, to a professional seance in Paris consisting of some forty persons, not one of whom could speak a word of English whilst he was equally ignorant of foreign languages. And I have heard French and German spirits return through him to converse with their friends, who were radiant with joy at communicating with them again, whilst their medium could not (had he been conscious) have understood or pronounced a single word of all the news he was so glibly repeating. I


will conclude this testimony to his powers by the account of a sitting with him for slate writing---that much abused and much maligned manifestation. Because a few ignorant pigheaded people who have never properly investigated the science of Spiritualism decide that a thing cannot be, because it can't, men of honour and truth are voted charlatans and tricksters, and those who believe in them fools and blind. The day will dawn yet when it will be seen which of the two classes best deserve the name.

Some years ago, when I first became connected in business with Mr. Edgar Lee of the St. Stephen's Review, I found him much interested in the subject of Spiritualism, though he had never had an opportunity of investigating it, and through my introduction I procured him a test seance with William Eglinton. We met one afternoon at the medium's house in Nottingham Place for that purpose, and sat at an ordinary table in the back dining-room for slate-writing. The slate used on the occasion (as Mr. Lee had neglected to bring his own slate as requested) was one which was presented to Mr. Eglinton by Mr. Gladstone. It consisted of two slates of medium size, set in mahogany frames, with box hinges, and which, when shut, were fastened with a Bramah lock and key. On the table cloth was a collection of tiny pieces of different coloured chalk. In the front room, which was divided from us by folding doors, were some bookcases. Mr. Eglinton commenced by asking Mr. Lee to go into the front room by himself, and select, in his mind's eye, any book he chose as the one from which extracts should be given. Mr. Lee having done as he was told, returned to his former place beside us, without giving a hint as to which book he had selected. Mr. Gladstone's slate was then delivered over to him to clean with sponge and water; that done, he was directed to choose four pieces of chalk and place them between the slates, to lock them and retain the key. The slates were left on the table in the sight of all; Mr. Lee's hand


remained on them all the time. All that Mr. Eglinton did was to place his hand above Mr. Lee's.

You chose, I think, he commenced, four morsels of chalk--- white, blue, yellow and red. Please say which word , on which line, on which page of the book you selected just now, the white chalk shall transcribe.

Mr. Lee answered (I forget the exact numbers) somewhat in this wise, The 3rd word on the 15th line of the 102nd page, he having, it must be remembered, no knowledge of the contents of the volume, which he had not even touched with his hand. Immediately he had spoken, a scratching noise was heard between the two slates. When it ceased, Mr. Eglinton put the same question with regard to the blue, yellow and red chalks, which was similarly responded to. He then asked Mr. Lee to unlock the slates, read the words, and then fetch the book he had selected, and compare notes, and in each instance the word had been given correctly. Several other experiments were then made, equally curious, the number of Mr. Lee's watch, which he had not taken from his pocket, and which he said he did not know himself, being amongst them. Then Mr. Eglinton said to Mr. Lee, Have you any friend in the Spirit World from whom you would like to hear? if so, and you will mentally recall the name, we will try and procure some writing from him or her. (I must say here that these two were utter strangers to each other, and had met for the first time that afternoon, and indeed as will be seen by the context I had a very slight knowledge of Mr. Edgar Lee myself at that time.) Mr. Lee thought for a moment, and then replied that there was a dead friend of his from he should like to hear. The cleaning and locking process was gone through again, and the scratching recommenced, and when it concluded, Mr. Lee unlocked the slates and read a letter to this effect:

My DEAR WILL,--- I am quite satisfied with your decision respecting Bob. By all means, send him to the school you are thinking of


He will get on better there. His education requires more pushing than it gets at present. Thanks for all you have done for him. God bless you.---Your affectionate cousin, R. TASKER.

I do not pretend to give the exact words of this letter; for though they were afterwards published, I have not a copy by me. But the gist of the experiment does not lie in the exactitude of the words. When I saw the slate, I looked at Mr. Lee in astonishment.

Who is it for? I asked.

It is all right, he replied; it is for me. It is from my cousin, who left his boy in my charge. My real name is William Tasker.

Now, I had never heard it hinted before that Edgar Lee was only a nom de plume, and the announcement came on me as a genuine surprise. So satisfied was Mr. William Tasker Edgar Lee with his experimental seance that he had the slate photographed and reproduced in the St. Stephen's Review, with an account of the whole proceedings which were sufficient to make any one stop for a moment in the midst of the world's harassing duties and think.



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