Spiritualism Introductory

A short title to a book has its advantages. It has also its

disadvantages. It is almost inevitable that it should, on the one hand,

seem to include much more than is intended, and, on the other hand, fail

to convey the purpose of the author. "Geology" would be a tolerably

large subject. "Astronomy" would be vastly larger. But "Spiritualism" is

an infinite subject compared with either, and to suggest that its claims

cientific study be considered within the compass of a small volume

of not much over a hundred pages seems the height of presumption!

It will therefore be well at the outset to indicate exactly what it is

proposed to include in the present investigation into "Spiritualism."

The alleged phenomena of Spiritualism may be roughly divided into two

classes--physical and mental. Those which belong entirely to the latter

class are outside the scope of this book. It is proposed to examine

those phenomena of the former class, the reality of which may fairly be

assumed to be proved by scientific evidence. The scope of the work is

thus reduced to reasonable proportions. There are several groups of

phenomena which appear to violate, or at least to extend in a striking

manner, laws recognised by Physical Science. The evidence to be relied

on will be that of scientific men of high standing, and of other persons

of unquestioned literary and social position.

There is, however, an important respect, in regard to which this inquiry

is placed in an entirely different position to any ordinary scientific

investigation, and one which adds greatly to the difficulties of the

student. Ordinary experiments conducted in a physical laboratory can be

repeated again and again under similar conditions, and similar results

will follow. If attempts are made to reproduce the phenomena of

Spiritualism, under what appear to be precisely similar conditions, by

means which have previously been successful, failure to obtain the

wished-for results may very probably follow. It is no use to rebel and

to feel inclined to abandon the pursuit as useless! That would be most

unscientific! The inquirer finds himself in the presence of a subtle

elusive influence, which he seems unable to control, and which refuses

to submit to the laws which govern physical experiments. On the other

hand, perseverance may be richly rewarded. An unexplored field of

scientific research of unlimited extent may open itself to view.

Something of that joy may be experienced which the search into the

unknown alone can give.

Mr. Arthur James Balfour, in an address on the occasion of the annual

dinner of the Royal Literary Fund, in 1893, said:--

"My friend, Lord Kelvin, has often talked to me of the future of

science, and he has said words to me about the future of science which

are parallel with the words I have quoted to you about the future of

art, and with the hope which I have expressed to you with respect to

literature. He has told me that to the men of science of to-day it

appears as if we were trembling on the brink of some great scientific

discovery which should give to us a new view of the great forces of

Nature, among which and in the midst of which we move. If this prophecy

be right, and if the other forecasts to which I have alluded be right,

then indeed it is true that we live in an interesting age; then indeed

it is true that we may look forward to a time full of fruit for the

human race--to an age which cannot be sterilised or rendered barren even

by politics."

There are some advantages which the study of this subject possesses over

most branches of scientific inquiry. In its present early and incomplete

stage the most important thing is the accumulation of carefully observed

and recorded facts. Even as regards Thought-Transference, in which the

number of careful experiments that have been made is far greater than in

any other class of phenomena, it is still most important to multiply the

quantity of the evidence. In most of the branches of the subject no

expensive apparatus is required, and no special scientific or

intellectual training. Accurate observation and careful recording, at

the time, of all that occurs, without prejudice, and without

discouragement at apparent failure, are the chief requisites. Any

person, or small group of persons of ordinary intelligence, can train

themselves to be equal to this. A very simple instance occurred in the

earliest experiences of the writer. After three or four sittings round a

small table with two friends, at which there was meaningless tipping,

and nothing better than commonplace sentences, the following was tipped

out: "Try no more to move"--then this succession of letters--"a t a t

a." It seemed useless to go on with nonsense, but one of the party

suggested perseverance; when the following conclusion converted seeming

nonsense into sense: "b l e take a pencil and write." The result was

that one of the party rapidly developed into an interesting automatic


It is quite impossible to foretell the extent of the aid that may not be

given, in the explanation of some of these phenomena, by the persevering

experiments of intelligent inquirers.

In the following chapters facts relating to several different kinds of

phenomena are put before the reader, as to which the guarantee of

authenticity and the quality of the evidence are both unimpeachable.

It is not proposed to travel all over the world in search of evidence;

the illustrations will be drawn almost entirely from home sources. With

all due respect to friends in distant parts, it will doubtless be a

satisfaction to some readers to know that in these pages they will not

meet with Mrs. Piper on the one hand, nor with Eusapia Paladino on the


With these few introductory remarks a calm and dispassionate

consideration of the evidence presented is invited. First of all, three

classes of phenomena will be taken up in the following order:--

(1) The Movement of Objects without any apparent Physical Cause.

(2) The Production of Sound without any apparent Physical Cause.

(3) The Production of Light without any apparent Physical Cause.

Two chapters will then be devoted to a study of the phenomena exhibited

in the lives of two of the most noted "mediums" of modern times--Daniel

Dunglas Home and William Stainton Moses. Both present manifestations of

phenomena belonging to the three classes above-named, as well as

striking examples of other kinds. A chapter on the "Divining Rod" will

follow. Then a chapter on one of the forms of Thought-Transference, one

which allows of its being included among physical phenomena. Two brief

chapters will come next on "Spirit Photography" and on

"Materialisations." It is explained that these are included, not because

of any scientific evidence in their favour which can be quoted, but

because of the extreme interest and importance of the subjects

themselves, and also because the strong testimony and moral evidence in

support of their reality seem to promise a tempting field for the

scientific explorer, and to warrant a confident belief that the evidence

he desires will be forthcoming. In a final chapter an endeavour is made

to sum up results and conclusions.


So far as I am aware, the first systematic or scientific attempt to

investigate the alleged phenomenon of the movement of objects without

any apparent physical cause was made by the London Dialectical Society

in the year 1869. On the motion of Dr. James Edmunds, a Committee was

appointed "to investigate the Phenomena alleged to be Spiritual

Manifestations, and to report thereon." The names of twenty-eight

members were proposed. Three of these declined to act. Eight more names

were added, so that the Committee, as finally constituted, consisted of

thirty-three, three of whom were ladies. Among the best-known names were

H. G. Atkinson, F.G.S.; Charles Bradlaugh; E. W. Cox, serjeant-at-law;

Rev. C. Maurice Davies, D.D.; Charles R. Drysdale, M.D.; James Edmunds,

M.D.; Robert Hannah; H. D. Jencken, barrister-at-law; William Volckman;

and Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, F.R.S. It is believed that Robert Hannah

and Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace are the only survivors.

In order to investigate the phenomena in question by personal experiment

and test, the Committee resolved itself into six Sub-Committees. In May

1870 the Committee appointed an Editing Committee to prepare a joint

report, based solely on the evidence that had been before it. A month

later the Editing Committee presented a draft report, which with some

trifling verbal alterations was adopted nem dis. A resolution was then

carried that a copy be forwarded to the Council of the Dialectical

Society, with a recommendation that it be printed and published. This

the Council declined to do. Upon this the Committee met and passed the

following resolution:--

"That the Report be referred to the Editing Committee, and that they be

requested to prepare it for publication, together with any supplementary

or counter reports that may be received from members of the Committee,

and appending thereto the reports of the Sub-Committees, and the

evidence, oral and verbal, that has been collected; the entire work,

when ready for publication, to be submitted for approval to the


Such is the origin of the volume from which the following extracts are

made.[2] Considerations of space necessitate dealing with the work of

one Sub-Committee only. The essential part of the REPORT OF

SUB-COMMITTEE NO. 1 is as follows:--

"Since their appointment on the 16th of February 1869, your

Sub-Committee have held forty meetings for the purpose of experiment and


"All of these meetings were held at the private residences of members of

the Committee, purposely to preclude the possibility of pre-arranged

mechanism or contrivance.

"The furniture of the room in which the experiments were conducted was

on every occasion its accustomed furniture.

"The tables were in all cases heavy dining-tables, requiring a strong

effort to move them. The smallest of them was 5 feet 9 inches long by 4

feet wide ... and of proportionate weight.

"The rooms, tables, and furniture generally were repeatedly subjected to

careful examination before, during, and after the experiments, to

ascertain that no concealed machinery, instrument, or other contrivance

existed by means of which the sounds or movements hereinafter mentioned

could be caused.

"The experiments were conducted in the light of gas, except on the few

occasions specially noted in the minutes.

"Your Committee have avoided the employment of professional or paid

mediums, the mediumship being that of members of your Sub-Committee,

persons of good social position and of unimpeachable integrity, having

no pecuniary object to serve, and nothing to gain by deception.

* * * * *

"Your Committee have confined their Report to facts witnessed by them

in their collective capacity, which facts were palpable to the senses,

and their reality capable of demonstrative proof.

* * * * *

"The result of their long-continued and carefully-conducted experiments,

after trial by every detective test they could devise, has been to

establish conclusively:--

"First: That under certain bodily or mental conditions of one or more of

the persons present, a force is exhibited sufficient to set in motion

heavy substances, without the employment of any muscular force, without

contact or material connection of any kind between such substances and

the body of any person present.

"Second: That this force can cause sounds to proceed, distinctly audible

to all present, from solid substances not in contact with, nor having

any visible or material connection with, the body of any person present,

and which sounds are proved to proceed from such substances by the

vibrations which are distinctly felt when they are touched.

"Third: That this force is frequently directed by intelligence.

"At thirty-four out of the forty meetings of your Committee some of

these phenomena occurred.

* * * * *

"In conclusion, your Committee express their unanimous opinion that the

one important physical fact thus proved to exist, that motion may be

produced in solid bodies without material contact, by some hitherto

unrecognised force operating within an undefined distance from the human

organism, and beyond the range of muscular action, should be subjected

to further scientific examination, with a view to ascertaining its true

source, nature, and power."[3]

One selection is now given from the Minutes of this Sub-Committee,

illustrating the nature of the Evidence that came before them:--

"EXPERIMENT XXXVIII., Dec. 28th [1869].--Eight members present.

Phenomena: Rapping sounds from the table and floor, and movements of

the table, with and without contact. The alphabet was repeated, and the

following letters were rapped: 'A bad circle--want of harmony.' At the

letter f, the table tilted three times, and at the letters a, r, gave

several forcible horizontal movements, tilting at either end.

"Raps, with slight tiltings of the table, beating time to the measure of

a song. Two or three poems were recited, to the measure of which there

were loud raps from the table and floor, and the table also marked the

metre by various horizontal movements and tiltings.

"Hood's Anatomy Song being repeated by one of the members, the knocking,

rapping, and tilting sounds, with various horizontal, trembling, and

vibratory movements of the table, accompanied it, in exact harmony with

the measure, added to which were strange movements, in accordance with

the character of the verses. In one instance the table shifted its

position several feet, the tips of the fingers only being in contact

with it.

"MOVEMENTS WITHOUT CONTACT.--Question: 'Would the table now be moved

without contact?' Answer: 'Yes;' by three raps on the table. All chairs

were then turned with their backs to the table, and nine inches away

from it; and all present knelt on the chairs, with their wrists resting

on the backs, and their hands a few inches above the table.

"Under these conditions, the table (the heavy dining-room table

previously described) moved four times, each time from four to six

inches, and the second time nearly twelve inches.

"Then all hands were placed on the backs of the chairs, and nearly a

foot from the table, when four movements occurred, one slow and

continuous for nearly a minute.

"Then all present placed their hands behind their backs, kneeling erect

on their chairs, which were removed a foot clear away from the table.

The gas also was turned up higher, so as to give abundance of light; and

under these test conditions, distinct movements occurred, to the extent

of several inches each time, and visible to every one present.

"The motions were in various directions, towards all parts of the

room--some were abrupt, others steady. At the same time, and under the

same conditions, distinct raps occurred, apparently both on the floor

and on the table, in answer to requests for them.

"The above-described movements were so unmistakable, that all present

unhesitatingly declared their conviction, that no physical force,

exerted by any one present, could possibly have produced them; and they

declared further, in writing, that a rigid examination of the table

showed it to be an ordinary dining-table, with no machinery or apparatus

of any kind connected with it. The table was laid on the floor with its

legs up, and taken to pieces so far as practicable."[4]


No endeavour appears to have been made by any of the members of the

Committee of the Dialectical Society to follow up the results which they

had obtained. The individual members who had previously been active in

such matters continued to take an interest in them, but there is no

evidence that a single new inquirer was gained. The next event of any

importance, in the direction of scientific inquiry into the subject, was

the reading by Professor W. F. Barrett of a paper before the meeting of

the British Association at Glasgow in 1876. This paper was entitled "On

Some Phenomena Associated with Abnormal Conditions of Mind," and dealt

mainly with what was subsequently designated "Thought-Transference."

Professor Barrett also referred to some "physical phenomena" which had

come under his notice. He says: "I am bound to mention a case that came

under my own repeated observation, wherein certain inexplicable physical

phenomena occurred in broad daylight, and for which I could find no

satisfactory solution either on the ground of hallucination or


In a paper read before the Society for Psychical Research in 1886,

entitled "On Some Physical Phenomena commonly termed Spiritualistic,

witnessed by the Author," Professor Barrett describes in detail the

phenomena he referred to in the paper read ten years previously at the

British Association, and the circumstances under which they occurred.

The following paragraphs give the important features:[6]--

Mr. C., a solicitor, with his wife and family, had come to reside for

the season in the suburban house of a friend and neighbour of Professor

Barrett's. He was an Irish country gentleman who had an utter disbelief

in spiritualism. Professor Barrett was therefore not a little amused on

making Mr. C.'s acquaintance, to find that he had in his own family what

appeared to be spiritualistic phenomena then and there going on. Mr. C.

gave Professor Barrett every opportunity of close and frequent

investigation. The sittings extended through the months of August and

September 1875. There were present besides Professor Barrett, Mr. and

Mrs. C., and their young daughter Florrie, a bright, frank, intelligent

child, then about ten years old. They sat at a large dining-room table,

facing French windows, which let in a flood of sunlight. Shortly,

scraping sounds, raps, and noises resembling the hammering of small

nails, were heard. Florrie's hands and feet were closely watched, and

were observed to be absolutely motionless when the sounds were heard.

Besides knocks, there were occasional movements of the furniture. Seated

one day at a large dining-room table in full sunlight, Florrie, and Mr.

and Mrs. C., and Professor Barrett being the persons present, all their

fingers visibly resting on the surface of the table, three legs of the

table rose off the ground to a sufficient height to allow Professor

Barrett to put his foot easily beneath the castor nearest him. The

importance of the comparatively small amount of "movement" phenomena in

this case is increased by their association with "sound" phenomena of

great variety and frequency. These will be fully described in the next


Another case which Professor Barrett cites in the same paper may be thus

summarised as far as phenomena of movement are concerned:[7]--

The sitters were Mr. L., a well-known photographer in Dublin, his niece,

Miss I., and Professor Barrett. While noticing the raps and knocks,

Professor Barrett observed a frequent uneasy movement of the entire

table, which was a moderately large and heavy one, four feet square. It

sidled about in a most surprising manner. Lifting their hands completely

off the table, the sitters placed themselves back in their chairs, with

their hands folded across their chests. Their feet were in full view.

Under these conditions, and in obedience to Professor Barrett's request,

the table raised the two legs nearest to him off the ground eight or ten

inches, and then suspended itself for a few moments. A similar act was

performed on the other side. Then a very unexpected occurrence happened.

To quote Professor Barrett's own words:--

"Whilst absolutely free from the contact of any person, the table

wriggled itself backward and forward, advancing towards the armchair in

which I sat, and ultimately completely imprisoning me in my seat.

During its progress it was followed by Mr. L. and Miss I., but they were

at no time touching it, and occasionally were so distant that I could

perceive a free space all round the table whilst it was still in motion.

When thus under my very nose, the table rose repeatedly, and enabled me

to be perfectly sure, by the evidence of touch, that it was off the

ground, and further, that no human being, consciously or unconsciously,

had any part in this movement."

Professor Barrett, with his accustomed caution, comments thus:--

"The results, it is true, were very remarkable and unaccountable; but

though I had not the slightest doubt of the good faith of Mr. L. and

Miss I., yet I do not adduce this evidence as unexceptionable. I should

have preferred to have taken precautions which were not so easy to

impose on a lady, and I should also have preferred to have had the

seance at my own house."

This latter objection was met by Mr. L. and Miss I. going to Professor

Barrett's house shortly afterwards, no one else besides Professor

Barrett being present. Some remarkable sounds were again heard. Then,

this happened--again quoting Professor Barrett's own words:--

"Suddenly, only the tips of our fingers being on the table, the heavy

loo-table at which we were sitting made a series of very violent

prancing movements (which I could not imitate afterwards except by using

both hands and all my strength); the blows were so heavy that I

hurriedly stopped the performance, fearing for the safety of the gas

chandelier in the room below. Here, too, I cannot avoid the conclusion

that the phenomena described are inexplicable on any known hypothesis."

After discounting the "pious platitudes" spelt out by the tilts of the

table, and the possibility, and even probability, that "unintentional

muscular movements" were the cause of these, and after recognising the

impossibility of keeping up a continuous vigilant watch on the hands and

feet of any person, and after supposing that Miss I. had some ingenious

mechanism concealed about her person, whereby she could produce the

sounds that were heard, Professor Barrett says: "This would fail to

account for the undoubted motion of a heavy table, free from the contact

of all present. After giving due weight to every known explanation, the

phenomena remain inexplicable to me."


Next in order of time come two papers by Mr. F. W. H. Myers, under the

title of "Alleged Movements of Objects without Contact, occurring not in

the Presence of a Paid Medium." They are published in vol. vii. of the

Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research.[8] The first

article goes over most of the ground traversed in the earlier part of

this chapter, but devotes twenty lines only to the Report of the

Committee of the Dialectical Society, and refers only to Professor

Barrett's cases as having been already published. A number of other

cases are, however, described in detail. The evidence in these scarcely

comes up to the level of scientific, and unless it had been sifted by

so careful a critic as Mr. Myers, who convinced himself of the reality

of the facts, could hardly be considered of much value. The two

following cases in the first article present the strongest evidence.

(1) THE ARMSTRONG CASE.--Mr. George Allman Armstrong, of 8 Leeson Place,

Dublin, and Ardnacarrig, Bandon, writes an account dated 13th June 1887.

After vouching for the perfect good faith of the small group of

experimenters, he describes in detail the movements of a table. The

"rising" was generally preceded by a continuous fusillade of "knocks" in

the substance of the table. When the knocks had, as it were, reached a

climax, the table slowly swayed from side to side like a pendulum. It

would stop completely, and then, as if imbued with life, and quite

suddenly, would rise completely off the floor to a height of twelve or

fourteen inches at least. It nearly always came down with immense force,

and on several occasions proved destructive to itself, as the broken

limbs of the table used at Kinsale could testify. The table was a round,

rather heavy walnut one, with a central column standing on three claw

legs. Mr. Armstrong says that on several occasions he succeeded in

raising the table without contact. It rose to the fingers held over it

at a height of several inches, like the keeper of a strong


(2) A BELL-RINGING CASE.--Mr. Myers, in introducing this case, says:

"The usual hypotheses of fraud, rats, hitched wires, &c., seem hard to

apply. The care and fulness with which it has been recorded will enable

the reader to judge for himself more easily than in most narratives of

this type. Our informant is a gentleman [Mr. D.], occupying a

responsible position; his name may be given to inquirers."[10] The

detailed report of the occurrences occupies no less than twelve pages,

the greater part of which consists of a long letter addressed by Mr. D.

to the Society for Psychical Research. He explains that he is writing in

the main from notes taken at the time and not from memory. The following

is an abstract:--

On Friday, 23rd September 1887, he took his four pupils to a circus, his

lady housekeeper also going, leaving two servants at home. They left at

about 2 P.M. All but himself returned about 5.30 P.M. The two servants

were on the doorstep, telling the boys not to go in by the area

door--the kitchens being below ground--and explaining that all the bells

were ringing violently, no one touching them, and that they had been

doing so almost ever since half-past two. When the master of the house

came home, he found the same state of things, the servants almost in

hysterics and the bells ringing. Nine bells hung in a row just inside

the area door, opposite the kitchen door, and there was one bell--a call

bell--on the landing at the top of the house.

Mr. D. frequently saw several of these bells ringing at once, the

ringing being sudden and very violent, louder, he believed, than they

could be rung by pulling the handles. One bell was more than once pulled

over, so that it could not return to its normal position. Several of

the upstairs bells had no bell-pulls. The bellhanger was several times

summoned to the premises. He showed that the wires could not have been

entangled, and entirely agreed that it would be an utter impossibility

for any animals, such as cats or rats, to ring the bells as they were

rung. The house was quite a new one, standing alone, surrounded by

unoccupied plots of building land.

As to the question of trickery. There seemed no possibility of that

being the explanation. The phenomena occurred when the housekeeper and

pupils were all away; also when the cook was away; also when only the

two servants and the master were in the house, and both of them in his

sight. For instance, he says he stood in the passage in front of the

nine bells watching them ring, with both the servants close by. Once in

particular he watched the housemaid on her knees in the middle of the

wash-house scrubbing the tiles, while the front door, area door, and

bath-room bells were pealing violently. The ringing was also heard by

tradesmen, and by men working in the gardens near. The wires of the

bells were distinctly moved, not only the bells and the clappers. The

bell-handles were never observed to be moved. The ringing lasted between

three and four weeks, and then ceased. Knockings in considerable variety

were also heard, and a few cases of the movement of chairs and small

articles, without any contact, also occurred.

Mr. D. was at one time disposed to think that the housemaid was in some

way connected with the disturbances, but he could trace no evidence.

She was a young girl who had not been out to service before. She got

into such a state of nervous excitement about the occurrences, that

brain fever or something serious was feared. She had only been in the

house a few weeks previous to the commencement of the manifestations,

and nothing occurred after she left. Mr. D. was, however, perfectly

convinced that she had nothing to do voluntarily with the


The second paper by Mr. Myers is devoted exclusively to some "strange

experiences" which occurred several years previous to 1891, at the

village of Swanland, a few miles from Hull, in the East Riding of

Yorkshire. The evidence is that of John Bristow, who states he was an

eye-witness. There were no intellectual phenomena, nothing but the

apparently meaningless throwing about of pieces of wood--directed,

however, by some intelligence, so as to attract attention without doing

harm. Here again what value the case has rests almost solely on its

having received the critical study of Mr. Myers.[12]

If the tipping of small tables when the hands of the sitters are in

contact is excepted--under which circumstances it is generally

impossible to determine whether the result is psychical, or due merely

to muscular action unconsciously exercised--the production of raps and

other sounds is the most frequent of the phenomena under consideration.

They are, however, generally so intermixed with other phenomena that it

is difficult to treat them separately.


In the extracts from the Report of the Committee of the Dialectical

Society given in the preceding chapter, it will be remembered that raps

and other noises are referred to as being frequently heard, and also as

apparently produced by an intelligent agency.


The reader is asked to refer to the general conditions of the case of

Mr. C. testified to by Professor Barrett in the previous chapter. He


"They (the sounds) came more readily and more loudly when music was

played, or a merry song struck up. Usually they kept time with the

music, and altogether displayed a singular degree of intelligence.

Sometimes a loud rhythmic scraping, as of a violoncello bow on a piece

of wood, would accompany the music. Again and again I placed my ear on

the very spot on the table whence this rough fiddling appeared to

proceed, and felt distinctly the rhythmic vibration of the table, but no

tangible cause was visible either above or below the table.... On one

occasion, when no one else was in the room, ... I asked my young friend

the medium to put her hands against the wall, and see how far she could

stretch her feet back from the wall without tumbling down. This she did,

and whilst in this constrained position--with the muscles of arms and

legs all in tension--I asked for the knocks to come. Immediately a brisk

pattering of raps followed my request. All the while the child remained

quite motionless. My reason in making this experiment, was to test the

late Dr. Carpenter's muscular theory of the cause of the sounds. Had Dr.

Carpenter been present, I feel sure he would have admitted that here at

any rate that theory fell through."[13]

Professor Barrett sums up his conclusions on this case thus:--

"A long and careful examination convinced me that trickery on the part

of the child was a more improbable hypothesis than that the sounds

proceeded from some unknown agency. Nor could the sounds be accounted

for by trickery on the part of the servants in the house, for in

addition to my careful inquiries on this point, Mr. C. informed me that

he had obtained the raps on the handle of his umbrella out of doors,

when the child was by his side; and that the music-master complained of

raps proceeding from inside the piano whenever the child was listless or

inattentive at her music lesson. Mrs. C. told me that almost every night

she heard the raps by the bedside of the child when she went to bid her

good-night; and that after she had left the room and partially closed

the door, she would hear quite an animated conversation going on between

her daughter and her invisible companion, the child rapidly spelling

over the alphabet, and the raps occurring at the right letters, and the

child thus obtaining with surprising rapidity a clue to the words spelt


"Still more violently improbable is the supposition that the parents of

the child were at the bottom of the mystery, stimulated by a desire to

impress their friends with the wonderful but imaginary gifts their child

possessed. The presence of the parents was not necessary for the

occurrence of the sounds, which, as I have said, often took place when I

was the only person in the room besides the child.

"Hallucination was the explanation which suggested itself to my own mind

when first I heard of the phenomena, but was dismissed as wholly

inapplicable after the first day's inquiry; nor do I think that any one

could maintain that different people, individually and collectively, for

some weeks, thought they heard and saw a series of sounds and motions

which had no objective existence.

"No! I was then, and am still, morally certain that the phenomena had a

real existence outside oneself, and that they were not produced by

trickery or by known causes. Hence I could come to no other conclusion

than that we had here a class of phenomena wholly new to science."[14]

After some three months the sounds ceased as unexpectedly as they had


There is one form of sound manifestation to which no allusion has been

made--what is called the "Direct Voice." It is alleged to be of frequent

occurrence in spiritualistic circles. Articulate words are, it is

stated, spoken "direct," not through the voice organs of any person

present. The phenomenon, so far as I have heard, occurs only in

darkness--and is an objective voice audible alike to every one present.

It corresponds to the phenomenon of "direct writing." But no attempt

that I am aware of has been made to treat the matter scientifically. One

of the earliest alleged occurrences of this phenomenon took place in

London, at a private seance at which I was present at the house of Mr.

Thos. Everitt, who departed this life in August of last year, and who

was one of the most prominent London spiritualists, Mrs. Everitt being

the medium. Some little time later, at a similar seance at the same

house, the sitting was terminated by the singing of a hymn by three or

four soft, gentle voices, purporting to be "direct" voices, which

sounded as if they proceeded from the top of the room close to the

ceiling. They were certainly not the voices of any of the company

present. It was one of the most beautiful and touching manifestations I

ever experienced. I can only compare it to the singing of a choir of

boys' voices, high up out of sight in Truro Cathedral, which I had heard

many years before. The seances at Mr. Everitt's were conducted in an

exclusively religious tone, and afforded no opportunity for obtaining

scientific evidence. It is much to be desired that a careful inquiry

should be made into the reality of so interesting a phenomenon.