By "materialisation," in this chapter, is not meant the production of
more or less complete portions of the human body--generally hands--a
phenomenon alleged to be frequent in spiritualistic circles. A
"materialisation" of the whole figure is meant, the production of a
figure which to the spectator appears as a new human being, so to speak,
occasionally exhibiting signs of independent organic life. Such a
ld be the most astounding that can well be imagined. I am
not in a position to offer any scientific evidence in its support. By
far the majority of the accounts which have been published of full form
"materialisations" are destitute of any evidential value, and in many
cases the circumstantial evidence for fraud is strong. Were it not for a
small number of cases which present prima facie evidence of a
different character, the question of the reality of this phase of
"mediumship" would be scarcely worth raising. But the existence of even
a small amount of evidence of such a kind raises the question into a
different position, to one which reasonably demands the searching
investigation of scientific men. I propose to give one illustration only
of this better class of evidence, but it is one in which common-sense
precautions against deception seem to have been carefully taken.
The following extracts are from a report made by Mr. J. Slater, and
published in The Two Worlds of 15th February 1895:--
"IS MATERIALISATION A FACT? YES. SCIENTIFIC PROOF.
"After the recent suspicions and exposures of materialising
mediums, I determined to take the first opportunity of applying
further and more stringent tests, which should absolutely
preclude the possibility of deception. For this purpose I wrote
to the Middlesbro' materialising medium, asking for a test
sitting, and stating the conditions--which he readily
"The conditions were that he should strip to the skin 'naked as
he was born,' and in the presence of witnesses dress in clothes
to be supplied by me....
"I made him understand that after he had dressed in the clothes
supplied by me, he must consider himself in my charge, and must
not attempt to do or touch anything, or go anywhere except to
the chair provided for him. He readily agreed to this, and
imposed upon himself a still further test, viz. that as soon as
the phenomena had ceased, he would instantly place himself in
our charge, to be held fast until the light was turned up, and
the company had retired to the next room, the same process of
undressing being gone through."
This was all carried out preliminary to a seance, and a final
examination of the room was made.
"The light was then lowered so that we could just see each other--the
company sang a hymn, a prayer was offered, and then came the crisis--to
be or not to be? In less than a minute a form of exceeding whiteness
appeared at the opening of the curtain; I should judge the height to be
three feet six inches or a little more. We could not distinguish the
face. The form appeared twice. Then a child form appeared, its raiment
white, luminous and very distinct. Then came the well-known and lively
black child, opening the curtain with her small arms and bowing
repeatedly to us. This child would be about two and a half feet in
height. The folds of shining drapery hung from her head in gipsy
fashion, which she opened for us to see her round black face. I was
quite close to her, but did not pat her face and woolly head as I have
done before. She climbed upon the medium's knee, and then came close to
us again, and then disappeared....
"The meeting then concluded with prayer and doxology. We then seized
hold of the medium's hands, and held him until the company retired, and
then went through the undressing and dressing process as before, every
article of clothing being rigidly examined as removed. We then searched
the corner as before, and found all intact, and not a sign anywhere of
the abundance of drapery we had seen."
Sixteen ladies and gentlemen present at the meeting allowed their names
to be published as a testimony to what they saw. The evidential value of
the seance depends entirely on the honesty and truthfulness of Mr.
Slater and of the two friends who assisted him in the carrying out of
the precautions taken.
Mr. Slater had been in the York Post Office for over thirty years, and
for nearly seven years before his death in 1902 had occupied the
position of superintendent. Mr. Slater was a frequent contributor to the
newspaper press of his own district, and also occasionally to other
periodicals. He appears to have been a man of considerable intelligence
and force of character, and to have been widely respected. I am informed
by Mr. J. P. Slater, a son of Mr. J. Slater, and who is in the Post
Office at York, that the name of the "Middlesbro' medium" was Kenwin,
and that he was an "ordinary working man" in some steel works. He died
six or seven years ago.