Psychography, A Treatise of Psychic or Spiritual Phenomena 1840 - 1892




THE evidence of Mrs. Andrews as to obtaining an answer to a question written by herself on the inner side of a slate, which was then screwed to another slate, will be remembered. As a test which, if it does not surpass, at least equals anything that has been recorded, I adduce the following case, recorded by Messrs. G. H. and W. P. Adshead with Monck. The case occurred thus.


Dr. R. S. Wyld, author of The Physics and Philosophy of the Senses, and other philosophical works, having been led to investigate Psychic phenomena, suggested certain tests which would appear to him satisfactory. Dwelling on the paramount necessity of obtaining the best procurable evidence for facts that so transcend ordinary experience, he suggested the following experiment:—" Let a box be properly taped, and the tapes knotted and sealed at each crossing. Let it contain a piece of writing-paper, with the signatures of the investigators thereon for identification, and a short piece of lead pencil. If a few words can be written on the paper whilst it is locked up, it is clear we have a proof which cannot be gainsayed."


Mr. W. P. Adshead accepted these conditions, and thus records the result of his experiment:—


114                                        Psychography.

in the afternoon of Friday, August 4th, I met Dr. Monck in Derby. I asked him if he had seen Dr. Wyld's letter. He said he had not. I described to him the test. "I have tried the experiment successfully several times," he replied. Dr. Monck was then controlled for two or three minutes by "Samuel," who said, in answer to my inquiry, that "if we would arrange for a seance in the evening he would do his best to repeat the experiment." We decided to do so, and met at the residence of Mrs. Ford. There were present Dr. Monck, Mrs. Ford, my brother, his wife, and myself.

In order that what occurred at the seance may be perfectly understood, it is necessary that I should here state that a day or two previously Dr. Monck received a letter from a gentleman in London, in which was enclosed a sealed packet, on the outside of which was written, "Not to be opened: nine questions to be submitted for answers." This packet Dr. Monck handed to my brother, asking him to keep it in his possession until answers to the questions could be formally requested.

A wooden box, with loose cover and string, were supplied by my brother; a sheet of note paper, envelope, pencil, wax, hammer and nails, together with two small hand-bells, were supplied by Mrs. Ford, so that not one of the articles which were to be used in the experiment about to be tried had previously been in the possession of Dr. Monck. The box was passed round for examination, and all agreed that it was most suitable for the purpose.

Dr.. Monck then tore a piece from one corner of the sheet of note paper, and gave me the piece, which I put in my pocket. The paper was then passed round for inspection, and it was found to be blank, not having a mark of any kind upon it. We all saw Dr. Monck fold it up, and place it in the envelope, which he fastened up. The envelope was then initialed by each person present, and placed by me in the box with the two hand-bells and a pencil. In addition to cording and sealing, I had suggested that the lid of the box should be nailed down; this was accordingly done, each one driving in a nail, and all being quite satisfied that without any other fastening the contents were perfectly secure. However, in order to make assurance doubly sure, with a


Writing Answers to Questions.                               115

piece of cord that had not a break or knot in it, I tied the box, standing up to do so, in order to get greater purchase in fact, so great was the strain on the cord, it could not he moved a quarter of an inch in any direction, and the edges of the box and lid were deeply indented by the operation. I tied the cord in several knots, leaving the ends about two inches long. The knots and the ends of the string I well covered with sealing wax, asking for a seal with which to impress it. As there was not one at hand, nothing remained but for two of the friends, acting on the suggestion of the moment, to remove the rings from their fingers, and with these I stamped the wax. This, I think, will dispose of the theory that the seals might be broken and re-sealed, to say nothing of the further difficulty involved, that of re-sealing without a light.

After sitting a short time in the light, sounds, as of the bells being moved, were heard to proceed from the box. We then saw it gently oscillate, and rise at one end about an inch from the table; then all was quiet. Nothing further occurring for some time, Dr. Monck—requesting us to place our hands upon the box, to assure ourselves it would not be interfered with in any way—asked us to put out the light, as it would increase the power. This was done, and in a few minutes "Samuel" took control of his medium. After a little conversation about the character of the seance, he was asked if he thought he could execute a piece of writing under the severe conditions which then obtained; he replied, "he thought he could," saying, "What shall I write?" My brother, remembering at the moment the sealed packet he had in his possession, said, "Be good enough to answer the questions contained in the sealed packet I have in my pocket."

Presently we heard the pencil at work, and in a very short time the task was accomplished. We were told to light up, and open the box. Before opening the box we examined it, and found the cord and the impressions of the rings on the wax perfect, and after cutting the cord, it was with great difficulty I could draw the nails and remove the lid. I took out the envelope, and found it to be the same I had placed there, as it bore the initials spoken of. I


116                                         Psychography.

opened it, and took out the sheet of note paper, and immediately proceeded to fit in the piece torn from the corner, and which I had not parted with. The fit was perfect, for on the edges of the tear there were a projection and a corresponding indentation, which placed it beyond all dispute that the pieces belonged to each other. On one page of the note paper had been written with a pencil the following, with two or three other words, which, for obvious reasons, have been omitted:—

Aug. 4, 76. Derby.


Dear —,

1. I think a change is probable; circumstances are often the policemen, peremptorily saying, "MOVE ON."

2. —— St. may be the one. Imitate me, and "please yourself." 3. If necessary we will impress you.

4. Town is the place for him.

5. No; lodge with a stranger.

6. Do I want you to burn your fingers? Haven't you had quite enough of manufacturing? 7. In neither department; but please yourself

8. Don't leave London.

9. Yes; ask a few more questions; our advice is gratuitous.

SAMUEL, M. A. A., &c.


I now requested my brother to open the sealed packet, which he did in the presence of all. Inside was found a sheet of paper, on which was written the following in ink:—


My dear Spirit-Friends,—Feeling, as I do, the fact of your ability to advise your earth­friends, I ask your advice to the following questions to the best of your ability:— 1. Do you think a change in my habitation is imminent?

2. Do you think the house in —— Street will be the one?

3. If not, can you impress me in which direction to go?

4. Do you think —— will remain in town?

5. If so, do you wish me to go with him to lodge?

6. Would you advise me to commence manufacturing again? 7. If so, in which department; in the —— or ——?

8. If either above, would you advise London or country?

9. If my spirit-friends have any further advice to offer, please do so on any subject concerning my welfare, as I wish to seek their guidance in all my steps. The above questions are submitted by ——.



Writing Answers to Questions.                               117

I think it will be conceded that the writing taken from the box supplied most appropriate answers to the questions on the paper taken from the sealed packet, but the problem to be solved is, how the answers came there. I have minutely detailed the facts as they occurred, and think the solution lies on the surface; but I will anticipate the possible suggestion, that by some means or other the medium had obtained a knowledge of the questions, and had previously written out the answers on a paper which he managed to introduce into the envelope after the sheet of note paper supplied by Mrs. Ford had been examined, and before the envelope was initialed, by observing that—in addition to the difficulty which such a suggestion must encounter in the fact that the piece of paper which I retained was torn from a blank sheet, and exactly fitted into the one on which the answers were written—there is the further difficulty of saying how, under the circumstances, any human being could have known what subject would be selected for the test-writing; for my brother solemnly affirms that not until after the box was securely fastened, and "Samuel" had asked what he should write about, did it occur to him to request that answers might be given to the questions enclosed in the packet which he had in his pocket. So that this portion of the phenomena, considered by Dr. Wyld decisive as to the truth of Spiritualism, was obtained under conditions even more severe than those he had suggested, for, in addition to being corded and sealed, the lid of the box was fastened down with nails.


Mr. G. H. Adshead had previously obtained a similar success:—


Dr. Wyld, of Aberdeenshire, recently proposed the following test as "a final and absolute proof of Spiritualism, which the most illustrious opponent would be unable to gainsay." As soon as we suggested it to Dr. Monck, he agreed to try it. Nine of us placed our signatures on a sheet of paper (supplied by myself, and never before seen by the Doctor), which each one had previously examined on both sides, in the full blaze of two gas jets, and found to be


118                                         Psychography

blank. A non-Spiritualist—an entire stranger to the Doctor—folded the paper and dropped it into the box, together with my pencil. Another non­Spiritualist fastened the lid with four nails, which he drove in with a hammer to their heads. With a piece of strong white tape—supplied by Mrs. Ford—he then tied the box round all its sides, made several knots at each crossing of the tape, and fastened the ends to the top of the box with sealing-wax, on which a non-Spiritualist's lettered seal was pressed. Until the box was thus secured, Dr. Monck purposely sat back from the table, and did not even touch or put a finger near the box, paper, tape, &c. In a few minutes "Samuel" controlled the medium, and asked me if I wished him to write anything special on the imprisoned paper. I said, "Yes, write 'My love to Louie.'" He replied, "It shall be done in the twinkling of an eye," and in the same breath said, "Open the box." Mr. W. Smith, of Gerard Street, who had fastened the lid down, now carefully cut the tape, to which the seal still adhered without flaw, and by the aid of a screw­driver, with considerable difficulty succeeded in opening the box, and (two gas jets being at the full immediately above it) we all saw the paper taken out by Mr. Smith, and found it to be the original sheet, containing all our signatures, and the whole of the rest of what had been blank space on both sides of the sheet was covered with large and very legible writing in "Samuel's" well-known hand. On one side was written, "All hail! Present my compliments to Dr. Wyld, and ask him whether this is what he wants. I have often done this and far greater things through this medium.SAMUEL." On the other side was, "Aug. 6, 1876.—My love to Louie." A detailed statement of these facts was carefully drawn up on the spot at once, and signed, for publication, by all the witnesses whose signatures had been placed on the test-paper before the experiment.


To anything short of a superfine hyper-criticism, which will accept nothing except personal evidenceand not that, in many cases—I cannot see how such testimony as this can be set aside. The conditions


Writing Answers to Questions.                               119

under which the experiment was made are conclusive. It is, indeed, only fair to say, that the phenomena which I have witnessed in the presence of this particular Pyschic, are produced under conditions extremely satisfactory, and most favourable for exact observation. This has been so in a great number of recorded cases, as in the following which I append as a specimen of the care taken in testifying to these facts. It is written and signed by Joseph Clapham, of Keighley, under date Oct. 6, 1876, and records the conditions under which Monck placed himself there.


There is absolutely no room for deception, because—


1. A stranger to the Doctor, who is a well-known sceptic, thoroughly cleans the slate.

2. While this person holds it, all in the circle inspect it, and pronounce it to be free from writing.

3. The sceptic holds it under the table, at least four feet from the medium.

4. Instantly he feels, as well as hears, the pencil writing on the slate. 5. All the sitters hear the same sound.

6. No person in the flesh, except the before-mentioned "sceptic," touches the slate from the moment the latter cleans it till he holds it up to the light that all may see it is full of writing.

7. Dr. Monck's hands are on the table in full view, and perfectly still the whole time.

8. The whole of the sitting is in a good clear light.

9. We sit in a room belonging to one of us, which we enter and search some time before the Doctor arrives.

10. I must not omit to add that the Doctor has permitted me to thoroughly search his clothes, both immediately before and after the sitting.

11. And, finally, the communication on the slate has sometimes been a direct reference to what we have been singing.


120                                        Psychography.

Finally, I adduce here a curious result obtained by Mr. Coleman on glass. The material used apparently makes no difference. In this case, as in many others, the writing was done by a material hand.


Of this class of manifestation I have had, from time to time, many, but nothing I think worth your notice, except it may be messages received by me in 1869, written on glass, of which I have preserved two specimens. I don't remember that I ever published a record of these writings, and I may as well describe them. I prepared pieces of thick plate glass, and covered the upper surface with a light coating of white paint. The medium took hold of one end, and I of the other, and we held it immediately beneath the table, the gas burning brightly over our heads. In an instant, I felt something like a hand using, as it appeared, the finger-nail to write the message. I had been talking with the presumed spirit of a young girl known to me, who had given her name, and my questions were answered on the prepared glass. She said, "I am in heaven;" and I asked, "Where is your heaven?" and the reply—which I have preserved, all the others being rubbed out—was, "I bring my heaven with me.—ISABELLA." And, as I intended to keep the glass, I placed it again beneath the table, and asked the spirit to add the date, when 1869 was added. I may as well say, that the writing was quite unlike Isabella's, and gave no evidence of identity, but of the fact of an intelligent entity having written upon the glass, there can be no doubt whatever."