February 10th, 1887.
I enter Col. Kase's house, 1601 North 15th Street, in company of Drs. Leidy, White and Mr. Sommerville, a friend of the first. We are received by the Colonel and pass scrutiny. The seance takes place in the second story sitting-room. This is furnished with a large oak table, a square piano, and one corner is made into an alcove, the curtains of which are thrown back and reveal several drawings in black and white -- one of the young Raphael. Over the mantlepiece a painting representing the apparition of a Spirit-form,
to a young lady sitting in front of a fire-place. On entering this room find the Medium, Mrs. Thayer, engaged in seating the audience. She is a middle-aged lady of good proportions, hair black, color flushed, the light eyes look weary, the lower face rather square, deep lines around the mouth. She is evidently not in very good humor. After a while the company, between twenty and thirty persons, mostly women, get seated.
Owing to the many people present I could not see what preparations had been made. Medium requests that the piano be moved against the door (to keep off illicit Spirits ?). Chair placed against the door. Light turned out completely. Singing of "Sweet by-and-bye." Medium requests a lady to invoke Divine blessing. Disgusting cant. More singing. Darkness impenetrable. Sudden bumping noise on the table. Match struck by the Colonel just as something crawls over my hand and falls to the floor. It is a red-bellied terrapin. Some ferns appear neatly arranged on the table in front and to the left of the Medium. Expressions of gratification. Dark. Singing. A pine-bough is thrown against me. Screaming on account of terrapin. Match. Several parties have large lilies in front of them. My neighbor a lily of the valley (he states that his wife said before he left: "I wish you would get a lily of the valley"). Dark. Singing. Match. Dr. Leidy has some red lilies; some smilax and a wreath are on the table. Great astonishment.
Colonel Kase says it is wonderful, but during the Centennial year they got tables loaded with flowers (the Medium has not given a flower seance for some years, she says, hence the rather meagre supply.) A lady points out the fact that the flowers are quite cold and have a sort of dew on them. But I found those before me quite dry, as if they had been in the room for some time. The Medium is tired and retires. Mrs. X. is requested to come under the influence of her Spirit guides, and she does. She puts herself in an oratorical posture, eyes closed, and reels off the common-places of the Banner of Light: the Spirits are eager for investigation, but benighted men in the flesh cannot make the conditions, and thus continue to wallow in darkness. The Spirits are kind. They do not damn those poor benighted ones, but still hold out, in beautiful optimism, the hope that all those who do want to know the truth will find it!
Another lady, Mrs. Y., is now called upon to put herself under Spirit-guidance, and she thereupon proceeds to enlighten the sheep-fold how it is possible that these flowers and branches and turtles can come through solid walls and closed windows. " It is all awfully simple; It is nothing but PROJECTION ! The Spirits understand the laws of electric
projection; even the electric forces themselves understand the laws of nature and the currents. The electric force snatches the flower, or plant, and propels it along invisible wires. There is no such thing as solid substance, matter is permeable to these forces, and, therefore, it is easy to see how a terrapin can come quick as lightning through a wall." (Verbatim.)
Mr. Copeland is now called upon to give the audience some tests, a rather inoffensive looking young man with hair standing up. The light is turned down; he jerks his head and body, passes his hand over his eyes and begins to talk in broken, childish sentences. A little Indian maid now controls him. The maid describes a tall, bony, black-haired gentleman standing near me, with a fatherly look; he is Charley, and holds something, as if I were undertaking some grand enterprise. But as I do not know Charley, Charley disappears, and the spirit of a Quaker gentleman comes to a lady not far from me -- all right. Soon, however, the maid is at me again. This time it is William. He has something chemical, like a discovery. Have I not been across the water where people had the cholera and turned black and died? Did I not very much disappoint a young lady over there? Did I give her a ring? Margaret, or some name like that, now comes around. Have I never seen the Medium before? No. Then I should pay him a visit. Wants to talk with me about my past and future. Has much to say; and so on. Do I not go often into a building where many persons work at chemistry? Am I not sceptical? -- rather. Wants to cure my scepticism, and so on, ad nauseam. Me is tired, me wants go. Again the jerks, the rubbing of the eyes, and the Indian maid is once more Mr. Copeland.
Seance terminates with the payment of one dollar, cash, at 9.30 P.M.
Stifling atmosphere breathed for 1½ hours, for what? Quelle betise!
GEO. A. KOENIG.