WRITING ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
WITHIN A BOX NAILED,
TIED, AND SEALED UP.
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:—
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
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
Answers to Questions.
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
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.
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
6. Do I want you to
burn your fingers? Haven't you had quite enough of
7. In neither
department; but please yourself
8. Don't leave London.
9. Yes; ask a few more questions; our advice is
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
I ask your advice to the following questions to the best of your
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
concerning my welfare, as I wish to seek their guidance in all my steps.
The above questions are submitted by ——.
Answers to Questions.
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
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
Answers to Questions.
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
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
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
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
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