EVIDENCE FROM THE WRITING OF LANGUAGES
UNKNOWN TO THE PSYCHIC.
IT is a by no means uncommon
thing for the handwriting in which the messages are written to be one
totally different from that of the Psychic; and it is a noteworthy fact
that when a special handwriting is associated with a special signature,
that association (so far as I have seen) is always preserved. I am
acquainted with many cases in which this is very observable. I have now
before me a specimen of Psychography obtained in private without the
intervention of any one outside the family circle, in which the writing is so minute as to
be illegible without the use of a strong magnifying-glass. Yet the letters are
clearly and beautifully formed, the lines are straight and regularly
spaced, and the capitals and the name of the Supreme Being are written
large, and with great care in their formation. The same half-sheet of
note-paper which contains this specimen contains also another message,
written in a totally different handwriting, but also with great neatness
and care. Each is signed by a name, or rather by a designation, and each
contains coherent and sensible matter. Each handwriting has been
preserved exactly in all
communications made now for some five years; and no
Evidence from the Writing of Languages.
variation is discernible between the
writing when obtained without human intervention, as in the case above
quoted, and that which is automatically written through the hand of the
Psychic through whom these messages are given. There is an absolute
identity preserved throughout.
It is not only that the character of
the writing is the same, but there is a marked presence in these
messages of individuality on the part of the Intelligence. The matter of
the message is as marked as the manner of it. This is observable
especially in writings obtained under the best conditions of privacy in
a family circle. Those who have looked carefully into the laws which
govern these phenomena do not expect to gain any information that merits
attention amid the distracting surroundings of a public circle, where
the Psychic is valuable chiefly for the unfavourable conditions under
which he can manage to give evidence to a sceptical inquirer; where the
performance is a species of psychical gymnastics, conditions being
prescribed for the special purpose, apparently, of rendering it
impossible to produce a given result; and success being the invariable
signal for still more stringent demands. Such investigators, it is
presumed, have their reward.
In private, on the contrary, when the
method of production is familiar, and the attention is directed more
to the nature of information given, there is observable a very distinct and
marked individuality in the Intelligent operator, and much that is written
is worthy of attention on its merits.
Almost invariably this individuality
is not akin to that of the Psychic. When only one Intelligence can be
detected, then usually the broad characteristics of the Psychic are
reproduced, but with a marked variation in minute points, and with
either the absence of some strong personal peculiarity, or with the
addition of one equally forcibly marked. And where several Intelligences can be
traced, they differ among themselves as strongly as they do from the Psychic.
Not only do these Intelligences
present characteristics of form and style of communication different
from what would have been used by the Psychic, but they give information
which is beyond his knowledge, and sometimes use a language with which
he is not acquainted. It is not my purpose now to dwell on the fact that
information is given by means of these messages which neither is nor
ever has been within the knowledge of the special Psychic through whom
the phenomenon was caused. That would lead me into details which do not
rightly belong to my subject, and I should manifestly be compelled to
narrow down my argument to such cases as are within my own private
knowledge. It is impossible to say of a given public Psychic, like Monck or Slade, that he does or does not know
such a fact, or has or has not ever heard of it in his past life. I
could only say that it was unlikely that he has such out-of-the-way
knowledge, and could ground no argument on such an opinion.
It is easier to adduce evidence as to
the language used. When we find Ancient and Modern Greek, Spanish,
Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Dutch, German
Evidence from the Writing of Languages.
man, Arabic, and Chinese forming the
language of some of these Psychographs, obtained in the presence of
Slade and Watkins, we shall not have much difficulty in concluding that
their linguistic attainments are not of this polyglot character. As a
matter of fact, Watkins is a young man whose past life has not been one that has been favourable to the
acquisition of any knowledge, except that gained in the hard school of
experience; and Slade knows no language but his own mother tongue. I am
in a position to affirm this with confidence, on the authority of Dr.
Carter Blake, who was accustomed to read French with Miss Slade and
Miss Simmons during their stay
in London. He says, in a letter to me, "We used to act little plays by Moliere,
and the like. I am certain that Slade, who was generally present, was
entirely and hopelessly ignorant of every word…. Simmons is as ignorant of the
'ethnic' languages as Slade, and the girls have a very moderate
school-girl acquaintance with the French language alone."
I adduce, therefore, this fact, that
languages unknown to the Psychic are frequently used, as an additional
proof of the absence of fraud. When such precautions are taken to prevent
previous fraudulent preparations of the slates as I have noted in each
quoted case, the presumption is in favour of the reality of the
phenomenon. When the evidence of the senses tells of the progress of the
writing, that presumption is increased. If, when the slate is inspected,
the language used is one unknown to the Psychic, I submit that the presumption is still
and that another link has been added
to the chain of evidence.
I have already mentioned one case,
that of Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood, J.P., in which his ear detected the
sound of Greek writing, and afterwards of the cursive script of English.
I will add two other cases, one recorded by the Hon. R. Dale Owen,
formerly American Minister at the Court of Naples. It dates back to a
time when Slade was comparatively unknown in this country. The record is curious,
inasmuch as Mr. Owen had the slate and papers on his knees, and saw the
detached hand, like those mentioned by Mr. Crookes and Mr. Jencken,
which executed the writing:—
At half-past seven on Monday evening,
Feb. 9th, 1874, I called at
Dr. Slade's rooms, 413 Fourth
Avenue, New York, found him disengaged, and
had a sitting which I shall remember while I live.
It was held in his back parlour; no
one but myself present; doors closed and locked; sufficient gaslight
from a chandelier suspended above the table to make every object in the
room distinctly visible. We sat at a table without cover, five feet by
two and a half, Slade at one end, and I on one side, near him; Slade's
hands on the table
An interval of some ten or fifteen
minutes during which nothing occurred; Slade nervous, restless, and
seemingly disappointed. Then he laid a small slate on the table before
me, and, after a time, went to a writing-desk, brought thence half a
quire of paper, selected a sheet, and handed it to me with a request
that I would examine it. I did so, carefully, under the gaslight, and
can positively affirm that not a word or letter was visible upon it. Thereupon he added,
"They wish you to lay it on the slate, and to lay the slate on your knee."
Evidence from the Writing of
Then, after another pause: "Have you
a lead pencil?" "Yes."
"Please throw it under the table." I
A few minutes afterwards I felt the
grasp as of a hand on one of my knees, arresting my attention, for the
touch was unmistakably distinct. Presently there appeared, stealing over
my knees, and creeping slowly up the slate, a hand, holding my
pencil. This hand resembled, point for point, that of a white marble female statue, alike in size, in colour, and in
form; the fingers taper, and the whole most delicately moulded. It
was detached and shaded off at the wrist. It commenced writing about the
middle of the note sheet, and continued to write under my eyes for two
or three minutes, ending at the bottom of the page. Then it slipped
gently back under the table, carrying the pencil with it.
Again an interval, perhaps of five
minutes. Then appeared a second hand, somewhat smaller than the first,
but in colour and symmetry closely resembling it. This hand moved to the
top of the sheet of paper, wrote as the former had done, and for about
the same period of time, then disappeared slowly in like manner. I saw
it even more distinctly than the first, because it wrote outside of the
shadow of the projecting table-top, and directly under the gaslight.
As we had no raps indicating the
close of the sitting, we kept our places, talking over what had happened. After some time, a hand similar to that
which first wrote, showed itself coming out from below the end of the
table furthest from Dr. Slade. It was detached, as the others had been
remained visible several minutes, then sank out of sight. This closed
When I came to examine the writing of
which I had thus witnessed the execution, I found the first written to
be in English, a commonplace communication with the signature of Dr.
Slade's deceased wife. The last written, but first on the note sheet
(headed in English, "Law of Love. Matt. v. 43-45"), was in Greek.
Now, my knowledge of Greek, imperfect when I left college, has, during
more than half-a-century of disuse, so faded out that I can barely
translate a word, here and there. I
[Photo illustration of handwriting]
Evidence from the Writing of
referred the manuscript to two of the
best Greek scholars in Harvard University, and from them I
ascertained that it was what it purported to be (a few aspirates and accents only
omitted), the original of the three wellknown
verses, thus rendered in our revised version:—
"43. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love
thy neighbour and hate thine enemy.
"44. But I say unto
you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you and persecute you.
"45. That ye may be
the children of your Father which is in heaven; for He maketh His sun to
rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on
Truly the "Law of Love." That those
of your readers who are familiar with Greek may judge the original MS.
for themselves, I here submit a
of what I obtained. (See p. 74.)
I close without comment, merely
reminding your readers:— That
this sitting was held in the light.
That the sheet of note paper remained
in my possession from the time I first received and examined it till the
close of the sitting; and has never been out of my possession since.
That, for the reality of the
phenomena I had the evidence of two senses: that of feeling, and best and most
convincing of all, the testimony of what the old poet calls the
New York, Oct. 15th 1876.
The other case is recorded in the
Spiritualist of Dec. 1, 1876, and Mr. Blackburn's
attestation supplies all the necessary information:—
The writing in the accompanying cut
is a fac-simile of that which was obtained upon one of Dr. Slade's
slates in the presence of Mr. Charles Blackburn of Parkfield, Didsbury,
near Manchester. Mr. Blackburn states that in broad daylight a crumb of
pencil was placed on the top of the table,
[Photo illustration of
and a clean slate turned face
downwards over the pencil. The
four sitters, including Dr. Slade, then joined their hands, with the exception that Dr. Slade placed
one of his hands
Evidence from the Writing in
upon the top of one corner of the
slate, whilst Miss Cook, at the other end of the chain of sitters,
placed one of her hands upon the opposite corner. Dr. Slade sat
sideways, and his feet were in sight all the time. Soon they heard the
pencil hard at work, and the message seemed to be a long one, for the
writing could be heard going on for five or six minutes; then it ceased,
and raps came upon the table. The slate was turned up and found to be
full of Greek writing. Mr. Blackburn wrapped up the slate in his
handkerchief, and carried it to the rooms of the National Association of
Spiritualists, where it is now framed under glass, and is on public
view. The writing is the dry dusty writing of slate pencil. The sitters
were Mr. Charles Blackburn, Mrs. Henry Cook, of Hackney, Miss Kate S.
Cook, and Dr. Slade.
Another specimen of Greek was
obtained by Mr. Gledstanes, who also had some Arabic and English writing
on the same slate. He went to Slade, I may say, with the desire and hope
of getting some French message, which he might give to M. Leymarie in
Paris, a city in which Mr. Gledstanes had for some time been resident.
The remarks which I have before made as to the difference in
handwritings find an illustration here. The Greek writings obtained by
Messrs. Owen and Blackburn are identical in type, and seem to me to be
hastily written, as if by a hand familiar with the character, and
accustomed to write it currente calamo [with the pen running on].
The letters are not laboriously formed, as would be the case if they
were copied by one who was ignorant of the language. The characters on
the; slates of Messrs. Gledstanes and Wedgwood are entirely
different—are, in my opinion, formed by another hand—and are signed
alike, but differently from the other writings. These points have their
on the question of the separate
nature of the Intelligence, and also of the reality of the phenomenon.
Since Slade has been on the
Continent, at the Hague and Berlin, we find that messages in Dutch and
German are written. Canon X. Mouls, with Slade in Belgium, obtained
writing in French, a language with which he was probably most familiar,
as well as in English, the language of the Psychic.
In London one gentleman obtained
writing in both Spanish and Portuguese, though neither he nor any person
in the room knew a word of either language. In an adjoining room,
however, it is curious to note that there was a gentleman, Dr. Carter
Blake, who knows both. It is right, however, to notice that during the
time when the experiment was being made, Dr. Blake was in conversation
about other subjects. The matter of the message, he tells me, is quite
unlike anything that would have been in his mind. He has no pretensions to be
a good Portuguese scholar; never uses the language for thought or word,
except in the way of business, though he knows Spanish well.
The same results are got with
Watkins, in America. Madame H. P. Blavatsky, a Russian lady now resident
in New York, and author of
went to Watkins, and having
written among other names, on separate pieces of paper, one in Russian
character, she was asked by the Psychic to allow it to be written on
the slate, as it was too difficult for him to pronounce. Madame Blavatsky placed
her hand alone on a slate, under which a fragment of pencil had been
placed. Mr. Watkins did not touch the slate. "An instant
the Writing in Languages.
after, on turning up the slate, the
appellation, consisting of three names, was found written in full, and in
Russian characters, with this curious exception, that one or two letters
were exchanged for those of Latin character, having the same phonetic
value; e.g. an 'f', pronounced in Russian 'v', but written 'b', was
substituted for the latter letter."
Again, a teacher of the Greek language
in the Collegiate Institute, Springfield, Massachusetts, United States
of America, Mr. T. T. Timayenis, a modern Greek by birth, obtained from
Watkins, in original characters of Romaic, "the name of his grandfather,
and three lines of Greek words, correctly spelled, and with accents and
breathings correctly placed." To this he testifies in his own name, and,
moreover, states that the "name written is very peculiar, almost
unpronounceable by English lips. The slate was in full view throughout,
and Watkins merely touched one corner with a motionless finger."
The same Psychic has recently obtained
writing in correct and properly formed Chinese characters. It is probable
that Psychography could be obtained in any given language, provided a
person were present who
understood that language even slightly. And there is some evidence which
goes to prove that on rare
occasions a language is used with which no person present is familiar;
just as, far more certainly, facts are given which are not known to any
one in the room.
It is, however, very desirable that
extended experiment should be made in this direction before any definite
opinion is formed.