I think it would be difficult to find a psychological study more interesting than that which is afforded by a Materializing seance. I have never attended one that did not yield abundant food for reflection, and present one problem, at least, too deep for any solution I can devise. Although, perhaps, our first experience in such seances makes the deepest impression, yet the novelty never wears off, nor can custom stale its variety. The audiences are never wholly the same, and every Medium has her own peculiar method.
In the cities where the Mediums reside, and where they hold their seances on regular days throughout the winter, the audiences are by no means composed only of those who go out of idle curiosity; these form but a small segment of the 'circle,' the majority are regular attendants, mostly those whose lives have been clouded by sorrow, and who go thither as to a church or sanctuary, and so serious and earnest is their deportment that I cannot imagine any temptation to open levity.
This unaffectedly religious character of these seances cannot fail, I think, to strike even the most indifferent. The careful arrangement of the visitors who are to compose what is termed the 'circle,' the nice balancing of positive natures with negative natures, wherein the Medium is guided by her delicate spiritual insight; the quiet hush; the whispered conversation; the darkened room; the darker drapery of the mysterious Cabinet, with its untold possibilities; the subdued chords of the dim melodeon; the soothing tones of familiar hymns, in which all voices join; the words full of assurance of a deathless life, of immortal love, of reunion with earthly idols, not lost, but gone before only a very little distance, and now present and impatient for the Medium's trance to enable them to return radiant with love and joy -- all these conspire to kindle emotions deeply religious in hearts that are breaking under blows of bereavement, and of such, as I have said, the majority of the audiences are composed.
Every effort is made by the Mediums to heighten the effect. Before entering the Cabinet to undergo her mysterious trance, the Medium generally makes a short address, reminding the circle that this is a solemn hour, that here is the forecourt of the world beyond, thronged with living Spirits, eager to return, bearing visible, tangible assurance of immortality and of enduring love, and that the mysterious agency, whereby they return,
is greatly aided by a sympathetic harmony in the circle, and so forth. The Medium then enters the Cabinet; the curtains close; the light is lowered; the organ sounds some solemn chords, gliding into the hymn, 'Nearer, my God, to Thee,' which all join in singing. At its close there is a hush of anticipation; and that nature must be unimpressionable indeed, that is not stirred when the dark, heavy folds of the curtains of the Cabinet are discerned to be tremulously moving; and, as they gently part, disclose a figure veiled from head to foot in robes of white.
If the return of the heavenly visitant would but end here, I think the impression would be deeper and more abiding. The filmy, vague outline of the white figure thoroughly harmonizes with all established, orthodox notions of ghosts, and if this were all of the apparition vouchsafed to us, we might, perhaps, have a harder problem to deal with than when the Spirit actually emerges from the Cabinet with outstretched arms of greeting. A substantial, warm, breathing, flesh and blood ghost, whose foot-falls jar the floor, is slightly heterodox and taxes our credulity; if hereunto be added an unmistakable likeness to the Medium in form and feature, many traces, I am afraid, of the supernatural and spiritual vanish.
Mindful of our endeavour as a Commission, to have as many observers as possible in cases demanding close observation, I never attended a Materializing seance as a member of this Commission. Whenever I happened to be personally known (and my ear-trumpet soon makes me a marked man), that official capacity was unavoidably imputed to me, but I never announced it nor claimed it. I was present merely as an observer on my own account, with the intention of making arrangements, if practicable, for seances with the rest of the Commission, if what I saw seemed to me sufficiently remarkable to justify the expense, which experience, with other Mediums in other lines, had taught me would be very considerable. I therefore took no notes, and could at this late day only after much difficulty furnish dates. Wherefore all that I propose in this Memorandum is to give my own private conclusion, which is worth no more than the conclusion of any other private individual, and to mention the test to which I subjected all the Spirits whom I had the pleasure of specially 'interviewing'; as this test can be applied by any one, at any time, at any seance, it partakes of the nature of a general truth, which does not need the support of dates, or names, or places to uphold it. I suppose I have attended between twenty and thirty Materializing seances.
I do not hesitate to acknowledge that I have been throughout sincerely and extremely anxious to become converted to Spiritualism. In whatever direction my judgment is warped, it is warped in favor of that belief. I cannot conceive of the texture of that mind which would not welcome such an indisputable proof of immortality as Spiritualism professes to hold out.
In general, then, let me say at once and emphatically that I have never seen anything which, in the smallest degree, has led me to suppose that a Spirit can be, as it is termed, materialized. It is superfluous to add that I never recognized a materialized Spirit; in only two instances have any Spirits professed to be members of my family, and in one of those two instances, as it happened, that member was alive and in robust health, and in the other a Spirit claimed a fictitious relationship, that of niece.
Of course this assertion applies only to those Spirits who materialized especially for me. I do not pretend to answer for Spirits who came to other people. All that I am quite sure of is that all the Spirits who singled me out from the circle, and emerged from the Cabinet for my benefit, were not only abundantly 'padded round with flesh and fat,' but also failed utterly in any attempt to establish their individuality; and moreover, in the instances where I had seen the Medium before she entered the Cabinet, so closely resembled the Medium as, in my eyes, to be indistinguishable from her.
It is, I confess, a very puzzling problem (it is, in fact, the problem to which I alluded above) to account for the faith, undoubtedly genuine, which Spiritualists have in the personal reappearance of their departed friends. Again and again have I asked those who have returned, from an interview with a Spirit at the Cabinet, to their seats beside me, whether or not they had recognized their friends beyond a peradventure, and have always received an affirmative reply, sometimes strongly affirmative. I was once taken to the Cabinet by a woman and introduced to the Shade of her dead husband. When we resumed our .seats, I could not help asking her: 'Are you sure you recognized him?' Whereupon she instantly retorted, with much indignation, 'Do you mean to imply that I don't know my husband?' Again, at another seance, a woman, a visitor, led from the Cabinet to me a Materialized Spirit, whom she introduced to me as 'her daughter, her dear, darling daughter,' while nothing could be clearer to me than the features of the Medium in every line and lineament. Again and again, men have led round the circles the Materialized Spirits of their wives, and introduced them to each visitor in turn; fathers have taken round their daughters, and I have seen widows sob in the arms of their dead husbands.
Testimony such as this staggers me. Have I been smitten with color-blindness? Before me, as far as I can detect, stands the very Medium herself, in shape, size, form, and feature true to a line, and yet, one after another, honest men and women at my side, within ten minutes of each other, assert that she is the absolute counterpart of their nearest and dearest friends, nay, that she is that friend. It is as incomprehensible to me as the assertion that the heavens are green, and the leaves of the trees deep blue. Can it be that the faculty of observation and comparison is rare, and that our features are really vague and misty to our best friends? Is it that the Medium exercises some mesmeric influence on her visitors, who are thus made to accept the faces which she wills them to see? Or is it, after all, only the dim light and a fresh illustration of la nuit tous les chats sont gris? The light, be it remembered, is always dim at these seances, and it is often made especially dim when a Spirit leaves the Cabinet. I think I have never been able at such times to read the Arabic numerals on my watch, which happen to be unusually large and pronounced. Unquestionably Spiritualists will be at no loss to explain this puzzle; possibly they would say that I have here unconsciously given one of the very best of proofs of the reality and genuineness of Materialization, and that my unbelief acts on the sensitive, evanescent features of the Spirit like a chemical reagent, and that -- but it is not worth while to weaken by anticipation their solacing arguments.
In any statement of this problem we should bear in mind all the attending circumstances: the darkened room; the music; the singing; the pervading hush of expectation; the intensely concentrated attention; the strained gaze at the dark Cabinet and at its white robed apparitions; and finally, the presence of a number of sympathizing believers.
There is another fact about these seances which I think cannot fail to impress even the most casual observer, and this is the attractive charms which the Cabinet seems to possess for the aboriginal Indian. This child of nature appears to materialize with remarkable facility, and, having apparently doffed his characteristic phlegm in the happy hunting grounds, enters with extreme zest on the lighter gambols which sometimes enliven the sombre monotony of a seance. Almost every Medium keeps an Indian 'brave' in her cohort of Spirits; in fact, there is no Cabinet, howe'er so ill attended, but has some Indian there. It is strange, too, that, as far as I know, departed black men, who might be supposed to be quite as unsophisticated as departed red men, have
hitherto developed no such materializing proclivities. It is, perhaps, even more strange that while, in my experience, Italian Spirits neither understand nor speak Italian, and French Spirits can neither comprehend nor talk French, and German Spirits remain invincibly dumb in German, it is reserved to Indian 'braves' to be glibly and fluently voluble in the explosive gutturals of their own well-known tongue.
Before a seance begins, a thorough examination of the Cabinet is always tendered, a privilege of which I very seldom avail myself, and hold to be always superfluous, on the following grounds: First, if the Spirits which come out of the Cabinet be genuine, it is of very small moment how they got in, and no possible scrutiny of the material structure of the Cabinet will disclose the process. Secondly, if the Spirits be fraudulent, the Mediums are too quick-witted and ingenious in their methods of introducing confederates into the Cabinet not to conceal all traces of mechanical contrivance far too effectually to be detected in any cursory examination. It is also to be borne in mind that much can be done under cover of the darkness, which is sometimes total for a few minutes before the seance begins, and also that the notes of the melodeon are sufficiently deep and loud to drown not a little rustling.
If the Mediums are deceitful I have always felt that in any endeavor to unmask them the odds are heavily in their favor. The methods are manifold whereby confederates may be introduced into the Cabinet: from above, from below, and, enveloped in black stuff, from back parlors, rooms and closets. It is not what goes into the Cabinet which, in my opinion, demands our scrutiny but what comes out of it; it is to the Spirits to which all our tests should be applied, the Cabinet and the Medium are quite secondary. Furthermore, it should be remembered that those who sit nearest to the Cabinet are always staunch friends of the Medium, or known by her to be perfectly safe and harmless.
Not infrequently a Materialized Spirit is seen to subside into the floor between the folds of the curtains at the opening of the Cabinet. This is termed 'de-materialization,' and not a little mystery is ascribed to it. The mystery vanishes when we reflect how easy it is for a lithe and active young woman so to bow down quickly, even to the very ground, as to convey the impression, when her white garments are alone visible against a black background, that she has sunk into the floor. I have at times distinctly felt the faint jar caused by the Medium's falling backward within the dark curtains a little too hastily. At times,
when the Spirit is wholly within the Cabinet, and visible only through the parted folds of the curtain, the semblance of a gradual sinking is obtained by simply uniting slowly the two folds of the black curtain, beginning at the head and gradually closing them down to the feet; the room is generally so dark that the dark curtain is indistinguishable at a little distance, and the effect of slowly falling is admirably conveyed. In one instance, where the Spiritual garments were not white, but particolored (the Spirit was a Scotch girl and wore the tartan), the effect of de-materializing was capitally given by the Spirit's standing just inside the slightly parted curtains, and then allowing the whole outer costume, even to the head-dress, to fall swiftly to the floor.
Perhaps the best effect in this line, that I have seen, was on one occasion when a Spirit had retired within the folds of the curtain, but apparently immediately reappeared again at the opening; she had been habited somewhat like a nun with white bands and fillets around the head and face; thus, too, was she clad at her reappearance, but, as I sat quite close to the Cabinet, I perceived that the figure was composed merely of the garments of the former Spirit, and that there was no face at all within the head-gear. I am sure the omission could not have been detected at the distance at which the rest of the circle sat. This snow-white figure was allowed to sink very, very slowly, the dark curtains uniting above it as it gradually sank, until only the oval white headdress around what should have been a face rested for a few seconds on the very floor, and then suddenly collapsed. It was in the highest degree ingeniously devised and artistically executed.
There are also various styles of appearing as well as of disappearing. I think the very best and most effective of them all is where a Spirit gradually materializes before our very eyes, outside of the Cabinet, far enough, indeed, outside to give the appearance to a visitor directly in front of rising up from the very centre of the room. A minute spot of white, no larger than a dollar, is first noticed on the floor; this gradually increases in size, until there is a filmy, gauzy mass which rises fold on fold like a fountain, and then, when it is about a foot and a-half high, out of it rises a Spirit to her full height, and either swiftly glides to greet a loved one in the circle, or as swiftly retires to the Cabinet. It is really beautiful, and its charm is not diminished by a knowledge of the simplicity of the process, which, as I have sat more than once when the Cabinet was almost in profile, I soon detected. The room is very dark, the outline of the black muslin Cabinet can only with difficulty be distinguished even to one sitting within six feet of it; a fold of black cloth, perhaps five feet long and four feet wide, is
thrown from the Cabinet forward into the room, one end is held within the Cabinet at about two or three feet above the floor, and from under the extreme opposite edge, where it rests on the floor, some white tulle is slowly protruded, a very little at first, but gradually more and more is thrust out, until there is enough there to permit the Spirit, who has crept out from the Cabinet under the black cloth and has been busy pushing out the white tulle, to get her head and shoulders well within the mass, when she rises swiftly and gracefully, and the dark cloth is drawn back into the Cabinet. I always want to applaud it; it is charming.
On one occasion, a Spirit tried this pretty mode of materialization, not directly in front of the Cabinet, but at the side quite close to where I sat. The Cabinet was merely a frame to which were attached black muslin or cloth curtains, and a Spirit can emerge at the side quite as conveniently as in front. Unfortunately this time, through some heedlessness, the Spirit did not creep out of the frame-work with sufficient care, and some portion of her garments must have caught when she was only on her knees. I never shall forget the half-comic, half-appealing, feminine glance as her eyes looked up into mine, when she was only partially materialized and some plaguey nail had caught her angel robe. It was very hard not to spring to her assistance; but such gallantry would have been excessively ill-timed, so I was forced to sit still while the poor animula, vagula, blandula, worked herself free and arose unfettered by my side.
Perhaps this is as fitting a place as any to mention the test whereby I have tried the Spirits who have come to me.
As this same lovely Spirit arose and looked graciously down on me and held out her hands in welcome, I arose also to my feet, and peering anxiously into her face, asked, ' Is this Olivia ? ' 'Yes,' she softly murmured in reply. Then ensued the following conversation which I reproduce as faithfully as I can. It was broken off once by the Spirit's retiring into the Cabinet, but resumed when she again appeared to me.
'Ah, Olive dear, how lovely of you to materialize! Did you really want to come back?' 'Very much, of course,' she answered. 'And do you remember the sweet years of old?' 'All of them,' she whispered. 'Do you remember,' I continued, 'the old oak near Sumner-place?' [A happy hit, in the longitude of Boston!] 'Yes, indeed, I do,' was the low reply, as her head fell gently on my shoulder. 'And do you remember, Olive dear, whose names were carved on it?' 'Yes; ah, yes!' 'Oh, Olive, there's one thing I want so much to ask you about. Tell me,
dear, if I speak of anything you don't remember. What was the matter with you. that afternoon, one summer, when your father rode his hunter to the town, and Albert followed after upon his; and then your mother trundled to the gate behind the dappled grays. Do you remember it, dear?' 'Perfectly.' 'Well, don't you remember, nothing seemed to please you that afternoon, you left the novel all uncut upon the rosewood shelf, you left your new piano shut, something seemed to worry you. Do you remember it, dear one?' 'All of it, yes, yes.' 'Then you came singing down to that old oak, and kissed the place where I had carved our names with many vows. Tell me, you little witch, who were you thinking of all that time?' 'All the while of you,' she sighed. 'And do you, oh, do you remember that you fell asleep under the oak, and that a little acorn fell into your bosom and you tossed it out in a pet? Ah, Olive dear, I found that acorn, and kissed it twice, and kissed it thrice for thee! And do you know that it has grown into a fine young oak?' 'I know it,' she answered softly and sadly, 'I often go to it!'
This was almost too much for me, and as my memory, on the spur of the moment, of Tennyson's Talking Oak* was growing misty, I was afraid the interview might become embarrassing for lack of reminiscences, so I said, 'Dearest Olivia, that is so lovely of you. There, be a good girl, good-bye now. You'll surely come and see me again the next time I come here, won't you?" 'Yes, indeed, I will.' I released my arm from encircling a very human waist, and Olive lifted her head from my shoulder, where she had been speaking close to my ear, and de-materialized.
Marie St. Clair, who, on Spiritual authority as I have shown above, shares the ownership with Sister Belle of 'Yorick's' skull in my possession, has never failed to assent whenever I ask a Spirit if it be she. To be sure, she varies with every different Medium, but that is only one of her piquant little ways, which I early learned to overlook and at last grew to like. She is both short and tall, lean and plump, with straight hair and with curls, young and middle-aged, so that now it affords me real pleasure to meet a new variety of her; but in all her varieties she never fails to express her delight over my guarding with care that which was 'the last thing on her neck before she passed over.' I was extremely anxious to obtain a written acknowledgment of this pleasure from Marie, and accordingly I took with me to one of the seances a little trinket, and told the Spirit that I would give it to her if she would just write down for me a few words expressive of this pleasure, and, as she was disappearing into the Cabinet, I thrust a writing-tablet and a pencil into her hand. Before the seance closed, she
reappeared to me, and handing me a paper claimed my promise. In full faith I gave her the little breast-pin, and after the seance, to my chagrin, I found the writing on the paper was not from her, but a message from my 'father,' announcing that he had 'found the next life a great truth,' which was, certainly, cheering, in view of the fact that he was enjoying the present in so remarkably hearty and healthy a manner.
For the next seance I provided an amber necklace, on whose clasp I had 'Marie' engraved, and when the Spirit of the fair French girl appeared, I taxed her with her naughty, deceitful ways, and told her that I would not give her the necklace, which I had brought for her, until she gave me what I asked for, in her own writing. In a very few minutes she reappeared and handed me a paper, whereon she had written: 'I am so glad you have kept them so nicely. Your Marie.' (As her skull was shared by Sister Belle, I suppose Marie was strictly logical, if ungrammatical, in referring to it as 'them.') It was enough; in a few minutes after, Marie reappeared wearing the amber beads glistening round her neck.
No sooner had I given the necklace than occurred another illustration of the remarkable and amiable pliancy with which Materialized Spirits will answer to any name with which they are addressed. The Medium who conducted the seance came to me and said, 'There's a Spirit in the Cabinet who says she's your niece.' Very thoughtlessly I replied, 'But I haven't any niece in the Spirit world.' The instant after I had spoken, I felt my mistake. You must never repel any Spirit that comes to you. It throws a coolness over your whole intercourse with that particular Spirit-band; no Spirit from it will be likely to come to you again. No surface of madrepores is more sensitive to a touch than a Cabinet full of Spirits to a chilling syllable of failure.
To regain my lost position, therefore, I said hastily, 'But can it be Effie?' (It was a mere hap-hazard name; I know no 'Effie.') The Medium went to the Cabinet and returned with the answer, 'She says she's Effie, and she wants to see you.' Of course, I went with alacrity to where the curtains of the Cabinet stood open, and there, just within it, saw a Spirit whom I recognized as having appeared once before during the evening with Marie, when the latter had materialized as a sailor-boy, and the two had danced a Spiritualist horn-pipe to the tune of 'A Life on the Ocean Wave.' 'Oh, Effie dear,' I said, 'is that you?' 'Yes, dear Uncle.' I wanted so much to see you.' 'Forgive me, dear,' I pleaded, 'for having forgotten you.' ' Certainly I will, dear Uncle, and won't you bring me a necklace, too?' 'Certainly, dear,' I replied, 'when I come here again.' I have never been there since.
Thus is illustrated what will be, I think, the experience of everyone who cares to apply this test to Materialized Spirits. When the investigator is unknown to the Medium, a Spirit materialized through that Medium will confess to any name in the heavens above or the earth beneath, in the world of fiction or the world of reality. Of course, it would not do to ask a Spirit whether or not it were some well-known public, or equally well-known fictitious, character. You would be repelled if you should ask a Spirit if it were 'Yankee Doodle,' but I am by no means sure that it would not confess to being 'Cap'en Good'in,' who accompanied Yankee Doodle and his father on their trip to town, and whose name is less familiar in men's mouths. All the good, earnest, simple-hearted folk who attend these seances ask the Spirits, when they appear to them for the first time, if they are father, mother, brother, husband, wife, or sister, and the Spirit will in every case confess the kinship asked for. But, as I have just said, the investigator need not restrict himself to his family, his friends, or his acquaintances. Let him enter the world of fiction, or of poetry, or of history, he has but to call for whomsoever he will, and the Materialized Spirit will answer: 'Lo! here am I!'
Let me strengthen this with the following additional illustration:
Not long ago at a Materializing seance where I was, I think, unknown to everyone, certainly to the Medium, a Spirit emerged from the Cabinet, clad in flowing white robes, and advanced towards me with a wavering gait, which could be readily converted into a tottering walk, if I should perchance ask if it were my great-grandmother, or could be interpreted as the feeble incertitude of a first materialization, if I should perchance descend the family tree and ask for a more youthful scion. I arose as it approached and asked: 'Is this Rosamund?' 'Yes!' replied the Spirit, still wobbling a little, and in doubt whether to assume the role of youth or of old age. 'What! Fair Rosamund!' I exclaimed, throwing into my voice all the joy and buoyancy I could master. The hint to the Spirit was enough. All trace of senility vanished, and with equal joyousness she responded 'Yes, it's indeed Rosamund!' Then I went on, 'Dearest Rosamund, there's something I want so much to ask you. Do you remember who gave you that bowl just before you died?' Here Fair Rosamund nodded her head gaily and pointed her finger at me. "Oh, no, no, no,' I said, 'you forget. Fair Rosamund, I wasn't there then. It was at Woodstock.' 'Oh, yes, yes,' she hastily rejoined, 'so it was; it was at Woodstock.' 'And it was Eleanor who offered you that bowl.' 'To be sure, I remember it now perfectly. It was Eleanor.'
'But Rosamund, Fair Rosamund, what made you drink that bowl? Had you no suspicions?' 'No, I had no suspicions.' And here she shook her head very sadly. 'Didn't you see what Eleanor had in her other hand?' 'No.' 'Ah, Fair Rosamund, I'm afraid she was a bad lot.' 'Indeed she was!' (with great emphasis). 'What cruel eyes she had!' 'Hadn't she, though!' 'How did she find you out?' 'I haven't an idea.' 'Ah, Fair Rosamund, do you remember how beautiful you were [here the Spirit simpered a little] after you were dead, and how the people came from far and near to look at you?' 'Yes,' said Fair Rosamund, 'I looked down on them all the while.' And here she glided back into the Cabinet*.
It is not impossible that a Spiritualist might urge that the test which I apply is not a fair one -- that guile will beget guile, that the Spirits meet me as I meet them.
But what other possible way have I of finding out who the Spirits are, when they do not tell me in advance, but by asking them? Whenever they have been announced to me as this or that Spirit, I invariably treat them as the Spirits of those whom they assert themselves to be, and, in my conclusions, am guided only by the pertinency of their answers to my questions. Whenever William Shakespeare appears to me (and, by the way, let me here parenthetically note, as throwing light on a vexed question, that Shakespeare in the Spirit-world 'favors' the Chandos Portrait, even to the two little white collar strings hanging down in front; his Spirit has visited me several times, and such was his garb when I saw him most distinctly); when, I repeat, Shakespeare materializes in the Cabinet for me, do I not always most reverently salute him, and does he not graciously nod to me -- until I venture most humbly to ask him what the misprint, 'Vllorxa' in Timon of Athens stands for, when he always slams the curtains in my face ? (I meekly own that perhaps he is justified.) Have I ever failed in respectful homage to General Washington? Did I ever evince the slightest mistrust of Indian 'braves?'
When a Spirit comes out of the Cabinet especially to me, how am I to know, or to find out, who it is but by asking ? If it be not the Spirit that I name, will it not, if it has a shred of honesty, set me right? What hinders it from telling me just who it is? If it be the Spirit of my great-grandmother, it can be surely no satisfaction to her, after all the bother of materialization, to hold converse with me as the Spirit of Sally in our Alley; and if she be, in every sense of the word, a 'spirity' old lady, she will instantly undeceive me, and 'let me know who I am talking to.' But why should I anticipate
deceit at Spiritual hands? If William Shakespeare can appear to me, why not Fair Rosamund? Hereupon a Spiritualist may maintain that if the Spirit said she was Fair Rosamund, and displayed a familiarity with the incidents of that frail woman's life and death, she probably was Fair Rosamund. So be it. I yield, and will go farther, and hereafter find no more difficulty, than in her case, in Tennyson's Olivia, Marie St. Clair, and in the heroes and heroines of Scheherezade's Thousand and One Nights.
Although I have been thus thwarted at every turn in my investigations of Spiritualism, and found fraud where I had looked for honesty, and emptiness where I had hoped for fulness, I cannot think it right to pass a verdict, universal in its application, where far less than the universe of Spiritualism has been observed. My field of examination has been limited. There is an outlying region claimed by Spiritualists which I have not touched, and into which I would gladly enter, were there any prospect that I should meet with more success. I am too deeply imbued with the belief that we are such stuff as dreams are made on, to be unwilling to accept a few more shadows in my sleep. Unfortunately, in my experience, Dante's motto must be inscribed over an investigation of Spiritualism, and all hope must be abandoned by those who enter on it.
If the performances which I have witnessed are, after all, in their essence Spiritual, their mode of manifestation certainly places them only on the margin, the very outskirts of that realm of mystery which Spiritualism claims as its own. Spiritualism, pure and undefiled, if it mean anything at all, must be something far better than Slate Writing and Raps. These grosser physical manifestations can be but the mere ooze and scum cast up by the waves on the idle pebble, the waters of a heaven-lit sea, if it exist, must lie far out beyond.
The time is not far distant, I cannot but think, when the more elevated class of Spiritualists will cast loose from all these physical manifestations, which, even if they be proved genuine, are but little removed from Materialism, and eventually Materializing seances, held on recurrent days, and at fixed hours, will become unknown.
HORACE HOWARD FURNESS.