EXPERIMENTS WITH OTHER PSYCHICS.
HAVE hitherto alluded only to
Slade and Monck as the vehicles of this force, and the Psychics in whose presence these phenomena are produced.
Though they afford us, by
virtue of their prominence before the public, most available evidence,
it must not be supposed that abundant facts of a similar description are
not to be found in other quarters. I am precluded from referring to
cases where the Psychic is not before the public. For obvious reasons,
ladies and gentlemen do not voluntarily expose themselves to the
curiosity of those who, only too frequently, reward information given by
an incredulous stare, or an insinuation of delusion or imposture. When
the plain facts are so far recognised that a profession of belief in
their reality does not involve social stigma, or suspicion of a latent
craziness, many persons will step forward to give their own testimony.
That they do not now do so is not surprising; but the fact remains,
though I cannot make use of it for purposes of argument, that these
phenomena occur in the privacy of domestic life, are witnessed in many a
family where no stranger is admitted, and where no aid in the evolution
of the phenomena is sought.
I have records of experiments with
two American Psychics, which I adduce here by way of corroboration. The
first is given by the Hon. J. L. O'Sullivan, formerly American Minister
at the Court of Portugal, and his experiments were made with Mrs. Harman
of San Francisco. The power of obtaining this phenomenon was rapidly
developed in her within three weeks, and the progress made was
very sudden. The noise made by the act of writing, it will be noted, was different from that observed with
Slade, though the more familiar sound of cursive writing could
apparently be imitated at will.
Mr. O'Sullivan thus describes what he saw:—
was this. The slate (sponged
clean with a small piece of pencil laid upon it, at first like Slade's,
but afterwards, by direction, considerably bigger) was held under a
common table, about a couple of inches below the table-top, she holding
one corner between her thumb and fingers, and I supporting it lightly
between mine, at the opposite diagonal corner of the slate. Our other
hands were on the top of the table. In this situation it is clear that
if she had relaxed her hold, to make any other use of her fingers,
the slate must have dropped instantly to the ground, so light was the
support contributed to it by me. Nay, more—I having once asked to have
my hand touched, there was then written on the slate that I should place my entire
hand on the top of the slate, which I did, so that the slate was then
held up solely by her thumb and fingers at one corner of it. My hand was
then touched, stroked, and patted, and a ring on the little finger taken
off, at my request, dropped audibly on the slate, and again put on, with
some little difficulty in pushing it over the thickness of the joint.
Sometimes, too, she laid the slate on
the open palm of her hand, and then directed me to place my hand under
Experiments with Other
hers, so that the entire back of her
hand rested on the palm of mine, both hands thus uniting in holding the
slate up to with In an inch or two of the under side of the table top.
Both of these modes of holding the slate certainly constituted the most
complete of test conditions as to the point that the medium's hand could
not possibly have had anything to do, either with the touching mine and
taking off the ring or with the copious writing on the slate, which
would take place as will be seen below. These things were certainly done by no mortal hand. She and I were alone in the room;
the table was a common everyday one, standing on an unbroken spread of
carpet: will Dr. Carpenter consider that they come within the reach of
Another point as to the modus
operandi, which differs from the experiences with Dr. Slade. While
the slate was being held under the table, we would not hear the
scratching of the pencil in the act of writing, but a steady stream
as of rapid little ticks on the slate, for all the world like the
sound of a stream of electric sparks. We would then hear three loud
ticks and the sound of the pencil dropping on the slate, as a signal
that it was done. We would withdraw the slate, and there would be the message, always
distinctly written. And yet, on my once remarking on this circumstance as being different from
what Occurred at Dr. Slade's, and also with Mrs. Francis (another
slate-writing medium at San Francisco), the next time we heard, first,
the flow of the stream of ticks, and then the scratching sound of
writing with a slate pencil, as though to show that they could do that
too if they chose.
It was also to be noted that a
communication of some length would be given in broken parts, even a
sentence being sometimes broken off in the middle. The signal for
stopping would be given, as though for rest and recuperation of the
force. This will be illustrated below. Seldom would more than twenty or
twenty-five words be given consecutively without such an intermission,
long enough for me to read, copy, expunge, and rub the slate, and again
restore it to its position under the table. It seemed as though some
force analogous to electricity flowed down the medium's arm, so as to charge the slate and
pencil with some spiritual power,
so as to establish the conditions
under which the spirit hands were able to act. That no mortal hands
were, or could possibly have been there, was, I repeat, absolutely
There is now before the public in
America a Psychic of very great power,
Charles E. Watkins, of Cleveland, Ohio. From several
accounts of phenomena observed
in his presence, I select now what bears upon my present point, but I
shall have reason to recur to him again before my argument is complete.
My friend, Mr. Epes Sargent, of
Boston, U.S.A., who is indefatigable in his attempts to convince an
unwilling world that there is in and around us something more than
materialists would have us to believe, has published in the
of Oct. 12, 1877, a very precise
account of his experiments with Watkins. On the 18th of September, he
tells us, he bought a new slate, protected by paste-board covers, and
repaired to Watkins' temporary residence, 46 Beach Street, Boston. Apparently Mr. Watkins was in a very unsuitable frame of mind—worried,
out of temper, ill at ease—just the worst state, one would say, for hope
of success in an experiment
which demands, above all, passivity and ease in the Psychic. It does not seem, however, to have made
much difference in the present instance.
Mr. Sargent was alone, and the time
was about noon on a clear, bright September day. The phenomena all centred round a
belief in intercourse with the Spiritual world. Mr. Sargent wrote six
names on six different slips of paper, concealing the movement of
with other Psychics.
his hand from Watkins, who, however,
had turned his back and made no effort to see what was being written.
"Without touching the pellets—only pointing at them with a
slate-pencil—Watkins gave the name written on each." Mr. Sargent
unfolded them one by one, and found that in every instance he was right.
His power of clairvoyance was very strong, and I think it likely that
this supersensuous condition is a frequent concomitant of the state in which Psychography
Mr. Sargent's narrative, so far as it
bears on my present subject, reads thus:—
He now handed me two slates, which I
cleaned thoroughly with a wet towel, which I had asked for. The theory
that by some chemical process there might be some writing upon a slate
ineffaceable by scrubbing, but made visible after a minute or two, was
wholly disproved by subsequent occurrences. Mr. Watkins did not touch
the slates after I had washed them. He simply placed a crumb of
slate-pencil between them, and told me to hold them out at arm's length.
This I did, first satisfying myself once more that they did not bear the mark
of a single letter on any of their surfaces. I held the two joined
slates out in my left hand, the medium being some four feet distant from
them. "Do you hear writing?" asked he. I put my ear down, and distinctly
heard the light scratching of the bit of slate-pencil. "It is finished," said
he, as a slight rap came on the slate. I did not see how there could have been time for more than a simple name to
have been written; but when I took one slate from the other, there, on
the surface of the lower
slate, was a letter of fifty-four words, signed with the name of a deceased brother, which
name I had not written down among those on the pellets. The letter was
characteristic, but gave no startling proof of the writer's identity.
The hand-writing had a general resemblance to my brother's, but I
take steps to compare it carefully
before the writing was rubbed out.
A still better test was in store for
me. The little slate, in stiff pasteboard covers, which I had bought an
hour before, and brought with me, had rested untouched near my right elbow
on the table. Mr. Watkins now took it up, lifted a cover, put a crumb of
slate-pencil on the surface of the slate, closed the cover, and handed the
slate to me. I know that there was no manipulation, no delay, no
possibility of trick on his part. I know that no "prepossession"
or expectancy of my own was a possible factor in the case, if I can be
permitted to use my reason in saying so. I looked at the slate on both
sides—satisfied myself (though there was no occasion for this under the circumstances) that
it had not been tampered with, then held it out, and the name written on it
was Anna Cora Mowatt, afterwards Ritchie, whose funeral I
attended at Kensal-Green in London, when Mr. Varley, Mr. D. D. Home,
Mrs. Cox, Mr. Harrison, and other Spiritualists were present.
I held my own slate out a second
time, and then came the words:
"My dear brother.—Yours, Lizzie."
Her name had not been even
written or Uttered by me up to this time. Lizzie was the name by
which we had always called
her, though she usually signed herself Elizabeth.
Again I held out my own slate, and
there came the words:—"My dear son, God bless you. Your father, who
loves you dearly.—Epes Sargent."
During these intervals the slate was
held by me, and there was no possible way by which any human
trick or jugglery could have been practised. The sunshine still streamed
into the room; the medium sat there before me; no other person was
present. No more stringent conditions could have been demanded, even by
Messrs. Lankester and Donkin. The medium, however, writhed as if in
torture every time the slate-writing took place. It was evidently
accompanied by some powerful nervous excitement on his part.
Mr. Chas. E. Watkins is twenty-nine
years old, and a man of a highly nervous and sensitive temperament. He
is a far different person intellectually from what I had been led
with other Psychics.
to expect. He showed, by flashes, a
high order of mind, and I regret that I could not have taken down in shorthand some of his remarks.
He now took my slate, and, after I
had re-examined it, he held it out in his own hand, and in less than ten seconds one side was fully covered
with a letter from my sister
Lizzie. Here it is:—
I come to you this morning with my
heart full of love for you, and I think that perhaps you may believe
that it is me, your own sister. George is here with
me. Your loving sister,
If you ever doubt spirit communion,
look at this slate.
Your sister, LIZZIE.
I still have the slate, with the
writing uneffaced. There were no punctuation marks, but the word
"believe" was underlined. The whole was written in less than twelve seconds.
His brother, Mr. James Otis Sargent,
a man of calm and clear mind, and a thoroughly capable observer, also went to experiment with Watkins, and
his testimony corroborates that of Epes Sargent. He is good enough to
send me the following account of an interview with C. E. Watkins, at his
room, No. 46 Beach Street, Boston, on the 19th day of September, 1877:—
Watkins and myself were the only
persons present. He handed me some slips of paper on which I wrote the
names of five deceased persons, folding up each paper as soon as I
had written the name upon it, so that its contents were thoroughly concealed.
While I was doing this, W. left the room.
When he came back, the five folded
papers, all mixed together, lay on the table under my right hand.
touching them, he requested me to
pick out one of them and hold it in my left hand. I did so. After
walking across the room once or twice, and laying his hand on my head,
he told me correctly the name that was written on the paper. In like
manner, he told me the names written on the remaining papers, while I
held them, one by one, tightly grasped in my hand.
I now threw the papers aside, and
took the slates, two of which, precisely alike, were lying on the table.
I cleaned each slate carefully on both sides with a damp towel. Watkins
then sat down at the table, opposite me, laid one slate on the table, bit
off a little piece of slate-pencil and laid it on the slate, put the other slate
over it as a cover, placed his two hands flat on that, and told me to put my
hands on his, which I did. In a moment he drew out his own hands, so that my
hands were left with the slates beneath them. Then he said that if I put
my ear down I would hear the
pencil writing. I put my ear down (not forgetting, however, to keep an
eye upon him), and I heard
distinctly the sound of the pencil. While I was listening, the pencil gave three
slight taps, and then the sound stopped.
I lifted the upper slate, and on the
under one two communications were written. The first purported to come
from a deceased brother, whose name was on one of the papers; the second
from my father, whose name I had not written. The handwriting of the two
was quite different. I did not recognise it. But the signature of the
second communication, in the peculiar form of some of the letters, was like my father's signature.
The slates were now cleansed again,
the bit of pencil was placed between them, and I held them myself at
Watkins not touching them or me.
On opening them I found a short
communication signed with another of the names that I had written. The
next time Watkins held the slates, and a message appeared purporting to
be from a deceased sister named in one of my papers.
Here the seance ended. It took place
in broad daylight. I watched every movement of the medium, and there was
no possibility of fraud. There was nothing in the messages by which I
could identify them as coming from the persons
Experiments with other
named; but that they were written by
some mysterious agency I have no doubt.
Cedar Square, Roxbury, Nov. 20, 1877.
Mr. John Wetherbee, of Boston, U.S.A., gives a similar
testimony. He is a well-known writer on psychological subjects, and has
devoted prolonged attention to them. Few writers in America are more entitled to speak on these subjects, or command more attention
by their utterances. He testifies thus:—
I followed an impression I had, and
bought two new slates at a store, and had holes bored in the frames, and
tied the two slates together, and sealed the knots. The slates were
clean, and the medium never touched or saw the inside of them. I had
charge of them, and they were never out of my sight. The room was as
light as a clear afternoon sun shining into it could make it. The tied
slates lay on the table before me and before him— not under table, but on the table. It
took some little time, for the new slates were not in so good mesmerically
charged condition as the slates in his common use are; but I felt as
though I would like to have the writing on the new slates, so I was
patient, and was well paid for my patience, for after a while I heard
the atom of pencil that I had put in the slates before tying them
together beginning to write, after which I cut the strings, and found one of the slates filled with a
communication signed by the name of a well-beloved friend and relative
who died some seven years ago.
Now, my good reader, I know—as well
as I know that the sun has shone to-day—first, that, as I said,
the slates were new and clean; secondly, that no one in the room
or out of the room (the only occupants being the medium and myself)
wrote the communication on the slate; and, thirdly, that it must have
been done by an invisible, intelligent being or beings, and could not
have been done in any other conceivable way. I make this statement as
strongly as I know how, and my oath shall be attached if needed.
I had many communications besides the
one described with the tied slates. I will describe one which was on his
own slates, but just as good a test, for my eyes are open and my head is
level. I took his two slates, and washed them clean, and laid one on
the other, like a double slate, and held them out at arm's length, and three
feet or more from the medium, and he never once touched them; the bit of
pencil began to write; I had put it between the upper and under slates;
then I opened them, and on each slate was an intelligent communication—one
from a relative and one from a friend. Both, it will be seen, were
written at the same time, both by different spirits and on different
subjects, and the handwriting of each was very different also.
Dr. H. B. Storer, 29 Indiana Place,
Boston, has the same story to tell. I give his record:—
I took his own two slates, first
examining them, to know, as I positively do, that there was no writing
upon them. I placed them together, the medium simply dropping a crumb of
slate-pencil between them, and held them at arm's length in my left
hand, in the bright light of the sun, the medium sitting within about
three feet of the slate, convulsively writhing, while the noise of scratching was feebly heard, apparently on the slates.
In some two or three minutes,
I should think, he said: "It is done," and I separated the slates and
found a short message written in a large, bold hand, and signed "Dr.
Warren." I know that some invisible but intelligent being, other than
the medium or myself, wrote that message, and such a being I call a
Mr. Chester A. Greenleaf writes from
Chicopee, Mass., under date, Nov. 14th,
My wife received a long communication
on new double slates bought and screwed together by myself, and
untouched by Watkins. The moving of the tiny pencil was heard by her
while Watkins was standing in a doorway about twelve feet distant from where the slates were held by her.
Mr. Watkins seems to obtain this
with other Psychics.
almost any prescribed condition. It is
recorded of him (Aug 25 ult.) that he submitted his powers to a crucial
testing on the public platform. Two new slates were bought, and kept in
the possession of the chairman of the meeting, Dr. Beals, and by him
carried to the platform. A committee, consisting of two gentlemen who are
not believers in the phenomena
called Spiritual, and one who is, was chosen from the audience. The usual
preparations having been made,
the slates were held by Watkins and the three gentlemen. "Soon the scratch
of the pencil was heard, and on taking the slates apart, a message of
fifty words was found on one of them; the committee affirming the
impossibility of any substitution of slates, or of chemical writing."
I have now brought forward testimony
sufficient for my purpose. If what I have adduced does not establish my
case, then no amount of proof
would suffice. I pass to another class of evidence.