SEANCES & CIRCLES THROUGHOUT THE AGES    page 19 

                                                                     

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From GLIMPSES OF THE NEXT STATE

by Vice Admiral W. USBORNE MOORE

 

The blind Medium, Cyril Husk, the psychic more frequently engaged for these seances, was then at his best. The phenomena which took place were the materialisation of the heads and busts of discarnate entities, spirit singing, whispers and the flight of a musical instrument round the rooms, over the heads of the sitters, all the while playing a definite tune. The rooms engaged were lofty. And afforded full scope for the singing. In the rooms (there were two in different parts of London) there were an organ and a table capable of comfortably accommodating thirteen sitters. Husk sat in the Circle at the table in every case. I soon saw and heard a number of things that could not be explained away by any system of juggling or deception of any sort. The principal control or familiar Spirit of Husk is the famous buccaneer of the time of Charles II., Sir Henry Morgan, who now calls himself "John King" Often I have heard his stentorian voice and seen him materialise above the Medium's head and dematerialise through the table. The seances were held in the dark. When a Spirit materialised it showed itself by aid in an illuminated slate, prepared and lying on the table. Sometime they spoke while in sight, but more often in the dark after they had dropped the slate; when in sight, the lips could be seen to move. Except in the case of John King, who was life-size, the faces and busts were about two-thirds of life size. The singing was remarkable; the voices would join with us, and also execute solos. I have heard as many as eight different male voices, from tenor to deep bass, singing at different times during one seance; and at different seances, I have heard twelve languages spoken in direct voice.

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One night a face presented itself to me that I could not recognise, as it was swathed round the mouth by a white bandage. After I had made two wild guesses, the head, hitherto facing me, suddenly swerved round to the left until only the profile could be seen. I then knew it, and named the relationship; three hard knocks sounded in front of me on the table. It was Iola; this was her first materialisation.

It may be mentioned here that no seance at which I have been present in Huskís house can compare with the seances I have attended in these lofty rooms.

Bulwer Lytton, the mystic and novelist, in his letter to the Dialectical Societyís Committee, February 28, 1869, says with reference to physical phenomena: "In these constitutional idiosyncrasies, whether the phenomena exhibited through or by them be classed under the name of clairvoyance, spirit manifestation, or witchcraft, I have invariably found a marked comparative preponderance of the electric fluid; and the phenomena are more or less striking in proportion to the electricity of the atmosphere. Hence the most notable exhibitions appear to have been obtained in the dry winter nights of New York". I had heard from Miss Bates of her personal experiences in New York and other parts of the States, and determined to go there in December 1904; I arrived on Christmas day, a Sunday. That evening I attended a materialisation sťance; Mr. de Witt Hough was the medium. The female figures were veiled, but one appeared at the opening of the cabinet, after some six or seven materialisationís had taken place, which was precisely the right height and figure or Iola, and have her earth name. I approached the cabinet; the figure advanced to meet me with outstretched hands; she was trembling excessively, and could utter only a few words. I saw her twice after that through Hough's mediumship, and communicated with her many times through psychics in New York and Boston. On one occasion she said "I did not know I was dead until I saw someone cut off a lock of my hair from behind my right ear." I was ignorant of this, as I was in the Indian Ocean when my relative died in Scotland; but on inquiry, I found the statement to be correct: after her death a lock of hair had been cut off from behind her right ear.

It is not easy for any man to recall the exact date when he came to a definite understanding with himself as to the certainty of a consciousness that a new proposition is, to him, a matter of belief; but I think I mayday there was one evening during this visit to New York when I was able to say to myself: "Mistakes there may be; fraud there is, occasionally, no doubt, as in all other matters on earth; but I now know that this spiritism is worthy of careful investigation, as I have evidence that there is reality behind it.

It was on December 30, 1904, and the medium was a young woman called Dora Hahn. I am sorry to hear that she passed over six years ago, and that I shall not have the pleasure of meeting her again on this plane of consciousness. She had never seen or heard of me in her life. We sat down opposite to one another in the dark. She first described a form near me, and gave the earth name of Iola; then went into trance, and an Indian girl called "Lark" assumed control. Lark, accompanied by Iola, then went on a voyage for me; the particulars I shall describe in their proper place in another chapter. After about half-an-hour or so Lark departed, and the psychic came out of trance. The lights were lit, and I produced a packet of fourteen cartes-des-visite from my pocket, laid it down on the table and retired sufficiently far away to avoid giving any suggestion by looking at the pictures. I said "Please pick out the portrait of Iola; you described her to me before you went into trance." She took some time over this; but while she was looking through the photographs she took up one and brought it to me with an air of perfect confidence, saying "Iola says this is your wife; and she tells me that, among these others, there is another one of your wife. I will get it." She then returned to the table. I followed her back, and she handed out a second portrait of Mrs. Moore. Both were correct.

Remark the following particulars. These two portraits had been taken, one in 1865 and the other in 1871; the former was as a little girl in a short frock. When she was on earth Iola not only knew these pictures well, but she knew all the cartes in the pack except one, as she was closely associated as a young woman with my wife. I had no one in my mind at the time but Iola.

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I have discussed this incident with many people, and tried to spoil it; it is wise to do this after an apparent manifestation by invisible intelligenceís. But in this care everyone who attempted to give a normal explanation asserted something which is more incredible than the spiritual hypotheses. To me there is only one rational explanation: Iola was in the room, and impressed the psychic to pick out these two photographs and to present them to me as those of my wife. The portrait of Iola herself was not selected at first shot. Two were brought to me first; one of those was a near relative, and considered by the family to resemble her.

On this occasion I remained in America one month, and saw and heard quite enough to convince me that those whom I had thought of as dead were very much alive. I returned to England in a frame of mind ready to receive the truths of spiritualism if I could find them in any honest quarter.

I now made a mistake. I endeavoured to persuade others that this spiritism was no vain delusion, but a hypothesis which had come to stay, and was not to be disregarded. I caused cards to be sent to my friends for our private sťances, and, after they took place, discussed the matter with them. The men and women selected were people of good social standing, and intellectually above the average. There were Fellows of the Royal Society, soldiers and sailors who had distinguished themselves in their profession, engineers, country squires, and others whose common sense and capacity were not to be disputed. I found they could not see as I did; could not hear as I heard. Their minds were unprepared. Some were considerably impressed at the moment, but the next day thought themselves the victims of jugglery on the part of the medium or some confederate; they could not, and did not, suspect that the rooms were prepared, or that I and my friends in the Circle were imposing upon them; but speaking generally their view was: "We are not experts in juggling, and we do not know what maybe possible in that line; this is contrary to all human experience; we cannot believe it." I remember, especially, one electrical engineer and one lady who could see or hear hardly anything. They were both hostile to the subject, and their eyes and ears were open only to what their minds expected---which was nothing---or fraud.

Since that time I have become convinced that all propagandism is useless. It is the duty of those who have the privilege of being shown the effects of the higher and more delicate forces of nature to state in plain terms what they have seen; it is their duty to seek to make converts. No man can give to another the understanding to assimilate facts new to ordinary human experience. Nor do I imagine that science will prove anything in either the mental or physical aspects of spiritism. Mortals know of only three dimensions. They may suspect that, outside their ken, there are beings operating in four or more, but all they see is the effect of these operations. The effects of gravity have been reduced to law; but, so far, nothing is known of gravity itself. When it comes to the passage of matter through matter, and others of the higher forces of spiritism that can only be witnessed under favourable mental and atmospheric conditions, it is difficult to see how science can prove anything. Every man and woman must search individually for the truth. If all who have the time to do this according to their opportunity, and communicate their experiences to their fellow men, a body of irresistible testimony will be collected upon which faith can be reasonably founded.

But to resume. By 1908 I had seen every phenomenon worth seeing in England. I had read every book worth reading on the subject of spiritism, and a good deal of trash, including The Confessions of a Medium, which bears internal evidence of being written by an anti-spiritualist, and which, though pure fiction, has been put forward as a true narrative. I knew that, owing to our unfortunate climate, it was useless to pursue my inquiries further in this country; and I resolved to return to America to complete my study in December 1908. This time I determined to go inland, where I was wholly unknown; and I spent two and a half months in Rochester, N.Y.; Toledo, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; and Chicago, Illinois. The evidence I obtained in these cities convinced me that I had been in direct communication with Iola, and with many relatives and friends through her influence, by the mediumship of professional and non-professional psychics. The phenomena consisted of automatic mirror-writing, materialisation, direct writings, pictures precipitated by invisible intelligence's, and the direct voice. The correlation of the evidence through different psychics who did not know one another, and in some cases had not even heard of one another, was striking, an---to me---conclusive of the genuineness of each; I left the United States with an

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impression, not likely to be easily removed, that there was only one alternative to the spiritistic hypothesis---that of the continual presence of personating demons, able to read every thought of mortals, and to construct at will dramatic situations that answered every doubt and uncertainty in the mind of an investigator. This is the Roman Catholic doctrine. I reject it, not only because of its intrinsic improbability, but on account of the consideration of many incidents of a strictly private nature than cannot be here related.

During a third visit to the United States in 1910 I obtained abundant proof that all I had previously seen and heard in that country was true; and I received further evidence of spirit return of a startling character.

There are two classes of investigators---first, those of and treat every psychic as a juggler endeavouring to perpetrate fraud, until they find them, after repeated trial, to be genuine; second those who believe every psychic they sit with to be genuine until they find them out in intentional deceit. Supposing two people. One of each of these classes, to be doing their best to find out the truth, and both equally acute, there is not doubt as to which will be the more successful. The mental attitude is unimportant factor to the situation; it is he who belongs to the latter class who will derive the most benefit. Manifestations through a good psychic who is surrounded by hostile minds are impossible. Unbiased, open-minded expectancy, founded on the reports of previous investigators, affords the best chance to psychics and their spirit controls. Passivity is necessary during the actual sitting.

There is a great deal of fraud in the practice of spiritism---fraud intentional and conscious, and unconscious fraud. There is no doubt that the trickery imposed here and in America had deterred thousands of people from investigation of the subject. Some instances will be given in the body of this book.

In the following pages I shall make an attempt to contribute my share to the general stock of information on the subject of spiritist phenomena by recording those of my experiences which I have every reason to believe are genuine manifestations of power exercised by discarnate beings who once lived on this earth plane.

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CHAPTER I
EARLY PSYCHIC EXPERIENCES

Fraud---Temptations of professional mediums---Mediumship not the only profession in which fraud is practised---The worst frauds---The psychic or medium only a telegraph office---Used on account of his peculiar organisation---Personal character does not, apparently, have any connection with the gift---What is a Medium?---Fraud and genuine phenomena frequently mixed at a seance---Under favourable conditions professional mediums do not commit fraud---Evil of promiscuous seances---The only cure for fraud---Rejection of evidence obtained through a medium who has been convicted of fraud on some previous occasion, a mistake---Every seance with professional mediums should be judged on its own merits---Darkness sometimes beneficial for tests---Effect of a hostile mental attitude in the sitters---My first seances---Reasons for and against the entire genuineness of Husk---My departure for New York.

No account of experiences in spiritism is of any use without a few remarks on fraud by the narrator; if he neglected to touch upon this disagreeable subject, he would be rightly deemed ignorant of the history of the movement. It is desirable that he should demonstrate to his readers that he is aware, and has always been aware, of its prevalence. It is the canker which destroys his peace and darkens his hours of observation and reflection. More than half his time is occupied with searching self-questions---"Could this or that have been done in a normal manner, and, if so, by what means?" This is the worst feature in the study. Psychical research is full of perplexities and difficulties, even if one is satisfied that the Medium is honest; for, all the time, we are dealing with invisible beings who appear to be operating in more than three dimensions; every manifestation is outside of ordinary human experience; not one can be explained by the ascertained laws of nature; and when, in addition to these obstacles, we have doubt as to the fidelity of the Medium, the task of investigation is hard enough to make many a man turn back in disgust from the quest. Fraud has been painfully common among professional Mediums.

It is, however, no use complaining because, when it comes to physical phenomena, public mediums have to be employed. There are few private psychics who will undergo the exhaustion that is the inevitable accompaniment of manifestations of telekinesis and materialisation. Mental phenomena are inconclusive; no man of ordinary critical judgment will be satisfied with that alone. Thomas Jay Hudson and writers of his type will sweep it all away by dwelling on the powers of the sub-conscious self; and these powers are acknowledged among the classes of investigators. So it comes to this, that he who would peer into the mysteries of nature, and endeavour to discover, experimentally, if life extends beyond the grave, is obliged to employ professional mediums. The temptations of these psychics are great; whatever powers they possess are sporadic and cannot be summoned at will; they find this out early in their development, and, in order to maintain regular seances, they learn the arts of jugglery to "help out" their particular gift at times when they feel they have not got their usual power. People travel long distances to sit with them. They have not the moral courage to say, "I have little or no power today; come another time". Possibly they do not know how much power they have, nor how far their guides can assist them, until they go into trance. If they turn their patrons away from the door, a murmur is soon circulated that they are not reliable, and sitters fail to attend; their income, never large, dwindles away, and they are stranded without means of a livelihood. Having surrendered themselves for two or three years to the trance condition, they cannot adopt any of the ordinary wage-earning occupations of life, and they become destitute. Competition is keen, and they see others prospering by keeping up their seances with artificial assistance. Though we cannot defend, we can at least understand the causes of fraud in mediumship.

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And remember, those who possess the gift of mediumship are not the only members of society who fraud. Let us look the matter squarely in the face. Every minister of religion who repeats the Apostles' Creed and yet does not firmly believe in the birth of Christ from a pure Virgin, His resurrection in His natural body, and His ascension into heaven in the same, is a fraud. Every physician who pays an unnecessary visit to a patient and charges for it is a fraud; every barrister who accepts fees for going into court on behalf of a client and does not attend is a fraud. Fraud is rampant in trade; in the shipping interest; in municipalities; and indeed, in some governments of the socalled Christian countries. It is always outrageously apparent during war, when strict supervision has to be relaxed; and in peace it is only limited by the amount of supervision exercised. It is idle therefore, to talk about fraud as if it were peculiar to mediums.

Some of the worst frauds, in my opinion, are those who profess to be able to tell us "how the thing is done", who account for every manifestation by normal jugglery. These persons require good looking after. It is becoming a lucrative profession to write books describing how all phenomena of the sťance room can be produced by normal means; for such works are popular. One word against spiritistic manifestation has more weight at the present time than fifty words in its favour, and the large majority of people in the Western world are antagonistic to any new idea which implies that there are things about us we cannot see, influences that we cannot class, beings whom we cannot sense, by our know organs. A man who is known in his suburban villa only to his tradesmen and a few neighbours, and who would otherwise die in the obscurity his social rank and official importance entitle him to, is called a "savant" if he writes a book calling into question the scientific observation of a Crookes or the truthfulness and honour of a Stainton Moses.

I have been told by friends that such books are useful, as they lay before us various tricks which may assist us in detecting fraud in the apparently genuine manifestations of mediums. I deny it. Most of the plausible explanations are simply efforts of the imagination, and not only do no good, but actually throw us off the scent. In my investigations I have not been assisted by any of these armchair detectives. Nothing that they write about has tallied with what I have seen. By diverting our attention from the real evils of spiritism they are a public nuisance. For a concrete instance of the foolish suggestions put forward by one of these ignorant "know-alls", I would point to a recent work in which there is a description of how slate-writing is performed by trickery. The writer says the sitter brings his own double slate, and the psychic deftly inserts a small piece of chalk (for pencil) previously prepared by being mixed with steel filings. While the slate is being held under the table or elsewhere the psychic moves the pencil by means of a magnet concealed up his sleeve, and does it as in mirror writing. Now, mind, he does not say" This is how I think it might be done"; that would be foolish, but not criminal. He says "This is how it is done". He states it as a fact. This statement of fact is untrue; such a thing cannot be done. Even with an Electro magnet in open sight it would be impossible to write twenty legible words; with a man sitting near you and watching you it is not possible to write five legible words without detection.

It is of such stuff as this that books telling us "how the thing is done" are written. When I dipped into them, I said to myself: "Is this all? If so, nothing that I have seen has been explained." But these writings pay well; they obtain for the authors a reputation for superior astuteness, and bring them into a social atmosphere above their level; for the majority of educated people are anxious not to be disturbed in their amiable doctrines of a Day of Judgement and a fiery material hell in store for those who do not agree with them.

In saying this I do not mean to include those bonafide conjurors who really believe the whole of spiritism is a farce, and are prepared to go to trouble and expense to prove their case; who undertake to repeat the phenomena, and who spend laborious days in practising juggling tricks which they think, sincerely, will account for the phenomena of the seance room. Such men as Mr. William Marriott in England and Mr. David Abbott in the United States are of much use to investigators. I am referring to arm-chair writers, who evolve their explanations solely from their imagination. Psychics, or mediums are, after all, only telegraph offices, by which we can, when conditions are suitable, be brought into touch with the next state of consciousness. The gift of true mediumship, like that of poetry, art and invention, is entirely independent of character. At first sight it would appear as fitting and proper that this divine gift of seeing into the next state of

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being the passive means of bringing consolation to a mourning house, of comforting the bereaved, would be bestowed only upon those who had qualified for it by leading a good life. Nothing of the sort takes place. There are many mediums of good character, but some are rogues. I remember one excellent American medium who gave me (a perfect stranger to him) some very neat tests, but he was a rogue. I know a good clairvoyant in this country who cannot speak the whole truth, in her normal state, about anything. Once she was a witness in court, and the Judge said of her: "As to that Mrs. ---, I do not believe a single word she has said"; and he was right. In the course of my investigations I have witnessed most convincing mental and physical manifestations through psychics of bad moral character. We find all this in the Bible. Look at the case of Balaam, who was probably the most celebrated Medium in Syria. Called upon to curse Israel, he tried to fraud and could not: the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he blessed them instead. Poetry is a divine gift, yet look at the character of some of the poets. When we go to a telegraph office to send a message, we do not ask the character of the operator or the keyboard. Why, then, expect the Mediums we make use of for communication with the unseen world should all be instruments of irreproachable moral character.

At present we have not yet discovered what constitutes the medium. We can only say for certain that it is solely in the presence and near proximity of certain people that phenomena takes place. These people are usually abnormal, and able to put themselves at will into such a condition of passivity as to be highly sensitive to any impressions made upon them by spirits incarnate and discarnate. There are, of course, many different phases of mediumship; but all I feel sure, will some day be proved to be subject to the same law. But what is this law? It seems to me that the following may be found to be a working hypothesis until we get a better. Man has two bodies---a natural and a spiritual---well described by that eminent psychic the Apostle Paul: "If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body" (1 Cor.xv.44). Both of these bodies he has here now. It is not unreasonable to suppose that, in some people, the Spirit body may be loosely connected with the natural, and be more free to exercise its functions than in others. Clairvoyance, clairaudience, and clairsentience are functions of the spirit body, and, by training these gifts may be brought to the front. In the case of the ordinary man or woman the two bodies appear to me to be very closely bound up together, so to speak; and the ever-present demands of the natural body are always to the front, the spirit body never. It is ascertained now beyond doubt that a manís spirit body can be released from the natural even in life, travel long distances and be seen by mortals. The phenomenon of materialisation, the sudden birth of a simulacrum of the human body and its sudden disappearance, can only be accounted for by supposing that the form we see in the seance room derives its materiality from the Medium, sitters and constituents of the atmosphere, but that the nucleus is the Spirit or astral body of the Medium, the whole being fashioned to meet the necessities of the spirit who wishes to occupy it. The spirit body, according to information given to me, is an exact counterpart of the natural, and is the connecting link between us and the next state. At physical death it departs to its new home.

The spirit body is not necessarily 'spiritual' in the religious sense; indeed, very often the contrary. A Medium is simply the most efficient vehicle the spirit can find. Sometimes the attraction is a great supply of animal magnetism, from which the unseen operators draw for strength to perform their remarkable manifestations. Long since I came to the conclusion that genuine and fraudulent phenomena were frequently mixed at a seance, especially promiscuous seances. We may be sure of this: it is easier not to cheat, and false methods are not resorted to until power fails.

Promiscuous seances are a mistake. The circle is generally composed of a number of people who do not know one another. Some come from curiosity; some to try and detect fraud; some, no doubt, from pure motives. But their vibrations do not mix harmoniously, and the result is a strain upon the medium. The best sitting everywhere have been obtained when five or seven sitters, well known to one another, sit with the same psychic once or twice a week for a long time. The cure for fraud is the formation of, say, thirty men and women, bound together by a common desire to learn the truth. They should engage a Medium for their meetings only, and he should receive a fixed salary. Strangers to the society should not be introduced. It is difficult, I know, to prevent a Medium from giving sťances outside; but his instant dismissal would be the forfeit. One condition

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of his engagement would be that he must spend at least four hours a day in the open air. The seances should only be held twice a week, and each circle should be composed of not more than seven persons. Mr. Gambier Bolton made a good attempt at the construction of two societies of this nature. They failed from various causes, chiefly because it was at that time impossible to secure the requisite fixed income for the medium; and consequently the latter would probably not cost each member of the society more than ten pounds a year, in addition to a fee of five shillings whenever he formed one of the circle.

The rejection of evidence obtained through a medium who has once or twice previously been convicted of fraud is a mistake. Every seance should be judged on its own merits. Some of my earliest lessons in this study were obtained through sittings with F. Craddock, who was afterwards exposed wandering about outside his cabinet when he was supposed to be sitting inside in trance. I was present, and have no doubt of his guilt on that occasion. But under favourable conditions in this country I have sat with this Medium, and seen and heard phenomena that were undoubtedly genuine. Everything was in his favour, and there was no incentive to cheat. There is no professional Medium in England who has not some time or the other been suspected of fraud; but I can assure the student who wants to enquire that the progress of his education will be very slow, if it does not actually cease, if he sits only with private psychics. Without materialisation and telekinesis, the evidence for the existence of discarnate spirits is not complete.

I wish to say a word about two favourite objections to the practice of spiritism: (1) Why should mediums be paid? (2) Why is darkness often necessary? why should Mediums be paid? The true question should be "Why should they not be paid?" Mediumship is a gift, like painting, music, poetry, oratory. If you deny the right of Mediums to payment when they exercise their gift for the benefit of others, on what possible plea do you allow it to parsons, artists, singers, composers or anybody else who is born with a tendency to some particular occupation? The fact is, there is more reason that you should pay mediums than other people. A good psychic is unfitted by the development of his gift for any other occupation, and at any moment may leave him.

Why is darkness often necessary? When people ask me this I say: "My friend, are you aware that you were generated in the dark; and not only you, but every mammal what was ever born alive? Can you tell me why? When you reply to that question I will tell you why the simulacrum of a human being cannot be generated except in the dark". The only simulacrum ever born in a good light has been the spirit-body of the medium himself; and this has only been seen once or twice in the last sixty years. Light disintegrates the materials of which forms and phantoms are composed. After being formed, they may come out in partial light, and remain some time; but their gestation must take place in a cabinet, or, at any rate, in darkness.

As a matter of fact, darkness admits of very good tests of the genuineness of a Medium. Husk's seances are always held in pitch darkness. I will mention three good tests I obtained when sitting with that Medium. When I took a friend to our rooms, I sometimes established him at then end of the oval table, four feet from Huskís left hand, which was held by a friend of mine. The candlestick was then put in front of him on the table, and he was asked to put a finger upon it, but not to resist its being moved. After the electric lights were switched off, and the person who did this had returned to his seat, the candle was blown out. In a few minutes I would feel the tap of a small hand on mine, and then the candlestick would be taken away from my friend and put down in the corner of the room with a clatter.

One night a guest of mine arrived in our room half-an-hour before the time appointed for the seance. She dropped her open purse on the floor and the coins rolled about on the carpet. Mr. Gambier Bolton and I picked up all we could find, and the lady declared herself satisfied that she had recovered all that was in her purse. Twenty minutes later the medium (Husk) arrived. In the middle of the seance, "Joey", one of the spirit habitues of the Circle, came to my friend and said: "Mrs. Arnold, here is a penny you dropped on the carpet." At a subsequent sťance I asked Joey how he knew the coin belonged to Mrs. Arnold. He said: "A Spirit, who was in the room when she dropped it, told me."

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On another occasion I was at Husk's house, and "Uncle" one of the controls, came, apparently in front of me, for a little chat. While he was speaking, I turned my head, first well to the left, and round to the right in order to see if I could exactly locate the position of the speaker. Uncle said to me: "Why are you turning your head about from side to side?"

 I could adduce other instances of satisfactory tests in the dark.

 Where materialisation is in question, it is futile for people to lay down any law as to light and darkness. In all physical phenomena the results are more quickly obtained in the dark. With very highly developed psychics, of whom there are none in Europe, a little light is allowed even during the materialisation phase; as, as I shall presently show, some of the most extraordinary feats are performed by invisible intelligence's in broad daylight.

There is one medium in England through whom materialisationís take place who does not go into trance. As he is found talking intelligently with his neighbour when self-illuminated figures are in communication with sitters some feet off, identifying themselves and conversing, there can be no doubt about his psychic power; but I am afraid that there is also little doubt that, on several occasions, he has been detected in fraud.

The best instance I have heard of combined fraud and genuine phenomena at a seance was told me some years ago by one of the most celebrated scientists in Europe. There was a young man of the company who made himself conspicuous by jeering at the objects of the meeting, and this continued even after the seance commenced. Suddenly he became silent. The seance was a successful one; many messages were given to the sitters. After the lights were lit, my informant spoke to the young sceptic; "Well, young man, how is it you became so pensive during out sitting?" The reply was: "It was this way. When the seance began, I arranged myself in my seat so that I could tap the underside of the table with my toe without attracting suspicion; and managed to carry on, by this means, the beginning of a message. Presently I became tired of this performance, withdrew my foot and sat in the normal manner; but the message went on! This gave me a considerable scare, and I remained quiet for the rest of the sitting."

Over and over again it has been noticed that the mental attitude of the sitters has a marked influence on the success of the seances. The atmospheric conditions, though they help or hinder manifestations to a large degree, are not of so much importance. The essential condition is a small, harmonious Circle of people bound together by a common faith in the possibility of communication with beings in another state of consciousness; not blindly credulous, but with all their senses on the alter, and passive in their expectations of any individuality. If the Medium is in a trance, he will be open to suggestion and sensitive to thoughts around. Suspicion and hostility impress him instantly; and I think it is not too much to say that, if more than half the Circle are suspecting fraud, the company as a whole will get it in some form or another. Personally, I will never again sit in a Circle with any pseudo-scientific investigator or avowed materialist. If a man cannot believe that our limited senses are incapable of taking in seven-eighths of the wonders of nature, he is an unfit frame of mind to appreciate what is going on.

No more honest man ever lived than Charles Bradlaugh, George Jacob Holyoake, Charles Watts, or Robert Ingersoll. They could not obtain any phenomena which satisfied them that they were in contact with another world. Bradlaugh once said on the platform; "I have given attention to this subject for twenty years, and have never seen a single phenomenon". Of course not! Good man as he was, the delicate manifestations of spiritism were not for such as he. The open-minded agnostic is not harmful; but the man who delivers, as he did, that nothing exists but matter cognisable to our poor senses has put on an armour which no spiritual weapon will pierce; he is invulnerable.

I have long suspected that it is the spirit body which chiefly functions in the seance-room. If I am right, this accounts for much scepticism. A man sees and hears many things which startle him. He is impressed, and goes home wondering what it all means; he goes to sleep wondering; wakes; has his bath and breakfast; and starts out to his business. By this time his spirit-body has taken its customary back seat, his natural body has come to the front, and his objective mind causes him to believe that he has been the victim of delusion.

The first seance I attended was on November 16th 1904, in a private room---a studio in Acacia Gardens, St. Johnís Wood. The Medium was Cecil Husk, who is nearly blind. I believe he can see pictures or writing put very close to his face, but for all the ordinary of life he is helpless, and has to be attended out of doors by a member of his family. The table on this occasion was

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circular, and between four and five feet in diameter. There were twelve people sitting at it, including Mr. and Mrs. Husk and our host and hostess; there was also an organist at the organ, screened from view by a heavy curtain. Among the guests was the materialisation Medium, F. Craddock. I sat directly opposite Husk, with a lady on either side of me, both of whom are gifted with psychic powers. On the table were two cards painted with luminous paint, and contained in aluminium frames with a handle of the same substance at the back, placed face downwards; a cardboard tube, a light zither, which had two phosphorised spots on the bottom of the sounding board. This enabled us to see it when it was elevated above the table.

Husk went into trance. The room was pitch-dark; the organist played a voluntary. In a short time lights were seen moving about over the table. I was only able to see one or two, but my psychic neighbours saw several; and the lady on my right asserted that she could see clouds very faintly illuminated. Scent was detected around us. Presently, an old, feeble voice, sounding from somewhere above and to the right of Husk, as I faced him, offered a Latin prayer, ending by the Benedict. This, I was told, was Cardinal Newman. He went round the table blessing the sitters individually; and after one final collective blessing, we hear no more of him. We then sang "Lead, kindly Light" to the accompaniment of the organ. Spirit voices, bass and tenor, joined in with great vigour from some feet above the Mediumís head and on both sides of it. There were, I thought, three of these voices, and they were of a very fine quality; the big room filled with sound. Then a control called "Uncle" made himself known by voice, going round and greeting each member of the circle. He spoke in a natural voice, but as if he had a small stone in his mouth.

Suddenly, a loud bass voice, coming from above and to the left of Husk, called out: "God bless you all". This was the chief control, "John King" whose name in earth-life was Henry Morgan, the famous buccaneer of the time of Charles II. He greeted everybody in the circle by name except me; I had to be introduced. He told me later that he was three times Governor of Jamaica, and was knighted by Charles II.

John Kingís advent is always the prelude to the materialisationís, but before they took place, the zither (usually known as "the fairy bells") was intelligently played by a Spirit whose name, I afterwards learned was Ebenezer. It rose from the table and soared above the circle, performing all the time a definite tune. Its movements could be watched by the phosphorescent spots on its under-side. It rose to a height of many feet (I judged about ten) above the table, paused there a minute, then came down, and after two or three swirls over our heads, dashed to the floor. Apparently it went through the floor, for faint music could be heard underneath; after a short interval this became louder and louder, until a sudden change in the strength of the tune made us aware that was again in the room. After a few gyrations it was laid down gently on the table.

 Materialisation's occupied about three-quarters of an hour. About fifteen Spirits materialised. Only the face and bust were visible. These showed by one of the illuminated cards held to the side of the face by the right hand. The women's faces were swathed in a sort of bandage below the nose. One sitter, who could not recognise his relative, asked for this to be removed; the card was dropped, and presently the form reappeared without the bandage, when he identified his visitor. This time the illuminated card was not held by the handle at the back, but by two small fingers which I saw clasping the side of it. The faces were about two-thirds of life size.

Three came to me. They presented themselves over the middle of the table about halfway between the medium and myself. One saluted three times with his illuminated card. I did not recognise it at first, but found out afterwards that it was Admiral T., and officer under whom I had served nineteen years before. The first and third appearances were the same. I could not identify them, and it was not until some months had elapsed that I discovered it was a stranger trying to influence me to bring him into touch with a member of my family.

A Hindu also appeared, either for me or my left-hand neighbour (Miss Bates). He sank down through the table; I watched him disappear until only his head was visible; the illuminated card (or "slate", as it is often called) fell over it, and he was gone.

One of Handel's solos was sung in a deep bass voice of great compass and power; the low notes were such as I had never heard before.

The last event of the materialisation's was a series of wafts of air, lasting two or three minutes and closely resembling the effects of a punkah, also loud scratches on the table. While

14

these scratches were going on the voice of Uncle was heard warning the spirit not to make such a noise. He was answered by a voice from the centre of the table calling "Chuprao, Chuprao!" (shut up, shut up!).

Before he departed Uncle came to each person in the Circle, addressing them by name, to say "Good night". The voice sounded to me as if coming from below my knees. In all subsequent seances the voices have all appeared to come from one and a half to two feet above the table. I cannot account for this; it may have something to do with the peculiar build and supports of the round table, which we never used afterwards.

During the evening, Craddock's guide "Sister Amy" was seen by clairvoyants standing behind him. She had several conversations with her medium and his neighbours. During the singing of "Abide with me" I heard a very audible "good night" and learnt that it came from Amy, who was going away. She was unable to hear the singing, and the abrupt interruption was quite unintentional.

When this seance was over I was much astonished. I later attended some seances with Husk that were far more fruitful of phenomena and better in every way; but this was my first, and I felt great surprise that such manifestations should be neglected by scientific men, and that they were not better known to the public. The singing, materialisation's and direct voices all appeared to be quite genuine. I was not particularly affected by the spiritualistic aspect of the seance, though I saw one or two touching incidents of meeting with departed friends; the thing that disturbed me was the apparent indifference of the outside body of thinking people.

The next seance I attended was in the Psychological Societyís Room, 67 George Street, Portman Square, on November 22, 1904, the medium again Husk, and the Circle composed of sixteen sitters. The manifestations were very similar to those in St. Johnís Wood, but I saw John King several times plainly. He materialised the face and bus life-size and came to me four times; once two feet above my head. It was a strong face and very dark. I estimate the distance from the place where he materialised above my head to Husk's body in the chair in the Circle to be four feet across. Admiral T. came to me quite distinctly and spoke a few words; it was a fair likeness. The mysterious stranger who presented himself before also came, but I was not to know his identity until later. Cardinal Newman, as before, gave the "Gloria in Excelsis", and pronounced the Benedictine in the Italian style, as if there were an "h" after "c"; this I found, on enquiry, was his custom in life. Two of three materialised heads and busts presented themselves to each sitter, who, as a rule, identified them as departed friends. A lady sitting next to me identified her son, and when the illuminated card (slate) was dropped had a conversation with him. At the end of the seance there was a chant of Greek pre-sets that we did not hear on the previous occasion; it was very melodious and effective.

On November 29th 1904, I sat with Husk again in the same room with fifteen others in the Circle, including, as on two previous occasions, the Medium and his wife. The first manifestation was a series of cold wafts over the backs of our hands, which were connected to our neighbours' all round the table. The Cardinal came as on previous occasions, bestowing his blessing collectively and individually; on arriving and departing he exhibited a bight cross in front of each person. We sang "Lead, kindly light" as usual, one deep bass voice and two tenors joining in. The a fine voice sang part of a solo, "Rock'd in the cradle of the Deep". It collapsed, apparently through want of strength, before the second verse was finished. I said "That is Foli". Immediately three taps came on the table in front of me, indicating assent.

John King made himself known with the stentorian "God bless you all", and greeted each sitter individually. His deputy, "Uncle" always comes at the beginning of the seances, and goes round to each member of the Circle. The materialisationís began soon after John arrived. He always presents himself first, and is never satisfied until each sitter has seen him clearly. About thirty-five or forty spirits showed themselves in form. They were all smaller than life-size, but most of them were recognised. The face of a woman came to me, the lower half of the face swathed in a bandage. I said, "Are you a relative?" (emphatic bow of the head). "Are you my ---?" mentioned a relative (no movement). Then the head swerved suddenly to the left. I knew it by the profile and called out the relationship. It collapsed and three knocks came on the table directly in front of me, indicating assent. It was Iola.

15

The zither, or as we were accustomed to call it, "the fairy bells", performed various gyrations round the table over the heads of the sitters, playing a regular tune, before and after the materialisation's. The Spirit that works it is known as Ebenezer. The last thing it did was to dash down on the floor, and apparently go through it, for we heard faint sounds below; these became louder and louder, till a crack was heard and the playing was again loud in the room, where the instrument was laid down gently on the table.

Mr. Cecil Huskís seances have been the theme of many discussions amongst spiritists. I have sat with him over forty times, and have only once suspected fraud. On that occasion the conditions were bad, and I am by no means sure that my doubts were reasonable. Even supposing my first ideas were correct, there were good reasons for attributing the trick I thought I had witnessed to unconscious fraud. I have a great deal more to say about him on my return from America. In the meantime it is well to state what arguments might be alleged for and against his genuineness.

Let us commence with such arguments as may be put forward for his reliability. He is, to all intents and purposes, blind. He enters a room with some fourteen people in it. Some greet him, some do not. They when his controls come, at a time when we believe him to be in a trance, they speak to each sitter by name in the correct order round the table. It is true that his wife, on the occasion described above, was with him, and sat next to him; but the unerring certainty with which this recognition was cannot be accounted for by her assistance, for it was practically impossible for her to locate the precise seat of each member of the Circle before the light was extinguished, and she seldom knew the names of all. Moreover, after his wife died, his niece brought him to our rooms, and there was no change in the accuracy with which his controls greeted the sitters; nor indeed, was there any difference in the manifestations, except that the forms did not get so far away as before from the medium. One of the well-known ladies in our society always held his left hand. Supposing his right hand was free (and, I admit, this must be taken into consideration), it would be impossible for him to manipulate the fairy bells or the materialisation's; it would not assist him to remove the candle and put it down in a corner of the room; it would be no help to him in the singing, which is, perhaps, the most extraordinary phenomenon that occurs when he is present. It is rational that one of the members of the Circle who sits next to him should be a person to whom he is thoroughly accustomed.

The manifestations that occur through the mediumship of Husk when in private rooms are far better than those which happen in his own house. All those investigators who have been present at both agree on this point.

The materialisation's which represent the sitters' friends are less than life-size. If frauds, they must be dummies. But, if dummies, how is it the lips are seen to move when they speak? And, if dummies, they would appear more natural. I have seen faces even half life-size---for they vary very much---but none that I can remember which looked fresh and of good colour, such as you would expect from a face intended to simulate that of a human being. There was a parchment appearance about all that came to me, and there is an undefinable look of Husk in some. This "Husky" appearance is just what we ought to expect, unless we are to suppose that the medium through whom they manifest has imparted nothing of individuality to the form and face.

The movements of the fairy bells while playing defy all normal explanation. I have seen feeble attempts to account for them by supposing there is a small musical box inside, started and stopped by a stick used in the right hand of the Medium. This, and the supposition that he also moves the instrument, the zither, are idle stories; for the deliberate strumming on the strings of the instrument, as if by human fingers is always distinctly heard, and the instrument often soars twelve feet away from the medium. It apparently goes through ceilings, walls, floors, and doors, and plays on the other side.

The singing is astonishing in volume, and goes on just the same when Husk happens to have a cold. He has himself, I believe a very good voice; but this would not enable him to sing tenor, bass and all the shades between, and this without the knowledge of his left-hand neighbor.

Different languages are spoken by Spirits to sitters. When foreigners attended, they always carried on short conversations with their friends on the other side. I have heard twelve languages spoken at different seances.

16

On the other hand, I should be very sorry to declare that Husk has never been known to "help out" the manifestations. He sits too often, and it is not possible for a psychic to have power at his command all the year round, especially if he holds seances three or four times a week. I think it is possible he may occasionally put forward dummies in his own house. Nineteen years ago he was once detected impersonating a Spirit. From my own personal knowledge or observation, I cannot say I have ever detected him; but I can conceive a seance where fraud and genuine phenomena both occur. His seances are too regular and frequent to escape the natural inference that artificial aid is brought in.

Numerous testimonies have been given, by people of all shades of intelligence and social standing, to the recognition of speech and sight of deceased friends through the mediumship of Cecil Husk. Thousands have sat with him. Many have been introduced under feigned names, and have been detected by the controls. Hundreds have been comforted in bereavements. I may be wrong, and I hope I am, in thinking that all his home seances are not true throughout. Of one thing I am quite sure---that he has, for over twenty years---exercised a genuine gift, and that, in private rooms when I sat with him, there was only one occasion when I suspected fraud, and that once it may have been unconscious on his part.

In December 1904, I determined to go to New York, and sailed on the 17th from Southampton, arriving on Christmas Day. With the various evidences of Spirit presence that I received while in New York and Boston I propose to deal with in the next chapter.

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