There are among Mediums certain Specialists, whose alleged Spiritual manifestations we have endeavoured to investigate, not always successfully, as, for instance, in the case of Mr. W. M. Keeler, through whose Mediumship 'Spiritual Photographs' are produced. The 'conditions' which this Medium demanded would have made any attempt at investigation a mere waste of time, and his terms of remuneration were, in addition, as we have before mentioned, prohibitory and suggestive of unwillingness to come before the Commission. In these days of 'Composite Photography' it is worse than childish to claim a Spiritual source for results which can be obtained at any time by any tyro in the art. Mr. Keeler's letter will be found in the Appendix.
We were more successful in procuring a seance with Mr. Keeler's brother, whose Mediumship manifests itself by the materialization of a right hand behind a low screen, in front of which the Medium sits, with his face alone visible, his entire person being concealed by black muslin. The screen is stretched across a corner of a room to about the height of the back of the Medium's head, as he sits in front of it. The lights are lowered, and in a few minutes various instruments, musical and otherwise, which had been previously placed on a small table in the corner enclosed by the screen, are heard to sound, a drum is beaten, a guitar is played, etc. The music
is interspersed with flashes of hand darting and waving above the screen to the right of the Medium. The hand, when shaken, was found to be a right one. As a proof that the hand is Spiritual and not that of the Medium, the latter requests one of the visitors at the seance to sit beside him on his right, and also to be covered to the chin with the same black muslin under which all the Medium, except his head, is concealed. This visitor's bare left forearm is grasped by the Medium, as he says, with both his hands, and this .pressure of the Medium's two hands on the visitor's arm is never relaxed, as the visitor readily testifies. The proof seems, therefore, conclusive that the hand which plays the instruments behind the screen is not the Medium's, and hence must be a materialized Spirit.
The trick is simple and highly deceptive, as any one can prove for himself by requesting a blindfolded friend to bare the left arm to the elbow, then let the experimenter grasp this bared arm, near the wrist, with the third and fourth fingers of his left hand, closing them around it tightly, and as he does so, asking the owner of the arm to note that this is his left hand, then let the experimenter, without relaxing this hold, stretch the remaining fingers and thumb up the arm as far as he can, and while clasping it with his thumb and forefinger, remark that this second pressure comes from his other hand. The conviction is complete in the mind of the blindfolded friend that he feels the grasp of two hands, whereas only the left hand of the experimenter has grasped his arm, and the right hand is free to beat a drum or play a zither. After this test, which is patent to all, we can dismiss the theory of a Spiritual origin of the hand behind Mr. Keeler's screen. To forestall the discovery by Mr. Keeler's companion of this trick, and to prevent its detection by simply feeling with his free right hand after the suppositions hands of the Medium, which are grasping
his left forearm, a second visitor is requested to share the discomfort of the muslin envelope, and to sit on the right of the first visitor and to hold the latter's truant right hand with his left hand, while his right is exposed to view outside the curtain. Again we refer to the Appendix for the minutes of our meeting.
We had a seance also with Messrs. Rothermel and Powell, of whom the former is the Medium, the latter, acting mainly as a reservoir of psychic force, guides and directs the seance. In this case the Medium's Spiritual manifestations, as well as his material arrangements, are similar to those of Mr. Keeler, except that instead of having a visitor whose arm may be grasped, Mr. Rothermel's hands are fastened in his lap by bands of tape passed around his legs and sewed to his clothes. After the black curtain had hid the hands from our sight we were not again allowed to examine them except in the most hurried and superficial way, but, even in the brief inspection which was permitted, a glance was sufficient to show that the tape had been tampered with. The close of the seance was announced by the sound of clipping scissors, and by Mr. Rothermel's exclamation, while still concealed, that the Spirits were cutting him loose. We had no means of knowing whether the tape was cut at the beginning of the seance or not. When the muslin envelope was removed, Mr. Rothermel's hands were certainly free. The bands were cut, and we had no difficulty in believing that the hands which were dexterous enough to play the zither with very remarkable skill, under such conditions, behind the curtain, were deft enough to sever the cords.
Our seances with Mrs. Maud E. Lord were acknowledged by the Medium herself to be altogether unsatisfactory. This is much to be regretted. Mrs. Lord is one of the few professional
Mediums whose excellence is acknowledged by all Spiritualists alike, and who, in her attitude towards the Commission, displayed every desire to aid a full and complete investigation into the manifestations peculiar to her Mediumship, and furthermore, without remuneration.
In conclusion, we beg to express our regret that thus far we have not been cheered in our investigations by the discovery of a single novel fact; but, undeterred by this discouragement, we trust with your permission to continue them with what thoroughness our future opportunities may allow, and with minds as sincerely and honestly open, as heretofore, to conviction.
We desire to call especial attention to Professor Fullerton's Report in the Appendix of his interviews with Professors Fechner, Scheibner and Weber, the surviving colleagues of Professor Zoellner in his experiments with Dr. Henry Slade.
And also to an investigation of the power of Mediums to answer the questions contained in 'Sealed Envelopes.'
|GEORGE A. KOENIG,|
|GEORGE S. FULLERTON,|
|ROBT. ELLIS THOMPSON,|
|HORACE HOWARD FURNESS,|
|JAMES W. WHITE,|
|CALVIN B. KNERR,|
|S. WEIR MITCHELL.|
|University of Pennsylvania,|