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Title: A Magician Among the Spirits
Author: Houdini, Harry
Language: English
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Transcriber’s Note: Italic text is enclosed in _underscores_.







  New York and London


  Copyright, 1924, by Harry Houdini
  Printed in the United States of America

  _First Edition_


                         IN WORSHIPFUL HOMAGE
                          DEDICATE THIS BOOK
                                IF GOD
                        IN HIS INFINITE WISDOM
                               IT WAS MY


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
         INTRODUCTION                                                 xi

         PREFACE                                                     xxi

     I.  THE FOUNDERS OF MODERN SPIRITUALISM                           1

    II.  THE DAVENPORT BROTHERS                                       17

   III.  DANIEL DUNGLAS HOME                                          38

    IV.  PALLADINO                                                    50

     V.  ANN O’DELIA DISS DEBAR                                       66

    VI.  DR. SLADE AND HIS SPIRIT SLATES                              79

   VII.  SLATE WRITING AND OTHER METHODS                             101

  VIII.  SPIRIT PHOTOGRAPHY                                          117

    IX.  SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE                                      138

     X.  WHY ECTOPLASM?                                              166

    XI.  BY-PRODUCTS OF SPIRITUALISM                                 180

   XII.  INVESTIGATIONS--WISE AND OTHERWISE                          191

  XIII.  HOW MEDIUMS OBTAIN INFORMATION                              217


    XV.  MAGICIANS AS DETECTORS OF FRAUD                             244

   XVI.  CONCLUSION                                                  266

         APPENDIX                                                    271


      CLUB, LONDON, ENGLAND                               _Frontispiece_

  JOHN D. FOX AND HIS WIFE                                            10

  THE FOX HOME AT HYDESVILLE                                          10

  LEAH FOX FISH                                                       14

  KATIE FOX JENCKEN                                                   14

  MARGARET FOX KANE                                                   14

  ELISHA KENT KANE, M.D.                                              14

      last photograph of the old showman                              26

      E. DAVENPORT                                                    28

  DANIEL DUNGLAS HOME                                                 44

      HUME’S REPUTED FEAT OF FLOATING TOOK PLACE                      47

  EUSAPIA PALLADINO AND HER SEANCE TABLE                              60

  ANN O’DELIA DISS DEBAR                                              76

  HENRY SLADE                                                         88

      PHILADELPHIA                                                    96



      OF SWITCHING SLATES OVER A SITTER’S HEAD                       106

  RAPPING MECHANISM IN HEEL OF MEDIUM’S SHOE                         111


      WILLIAM HOPE OF THE CREWE CIRCLE                               130

  HOUDINI AND ALEXANDER MARTIN                                       134

      EXTRAS”                                                        136


  KELLAR AND HOUDINI                                                 224


From my early career as a mystical entertainer I have been interested
in Spiritualism as belonging to the category of mysticism, and as
a side line to my own phase of mystery shows I have associated
myself with mediums, joining the rank and file and held seances as
an independent medium to fathom the truth of it all. At the time I
appreciated the fact that I surprised my clients, but while aware
of the fact that I was _deceiving_ them I did not see or understand
the seriousness of trifling with such sacred sentimentality and the
baneful result which inevitably followed. To me it was a lark. I was a
mystifier and as such my ambition was being gratified and my love for a
mild sensation satisfied. After delving deep I realized the seriousness
of it all. As I advanced to riper years of experience I was brought
to a realization of the seriousness of trifling with the hallowed
reverence which the average human being bestows on the departed, and
when I personally became afflicted with similar grief I was chagrined
that I should ever have been guilty of such frivolity and for the first
time realized that it bordered on crime.

As a consequence my own mental attitude became considerably more
plastic. I too would have parted gladly with a large share of
my earthly possessions for the solace of one word from my loved
departed--just one word that I was sure had been genuinely bestowed by
them--and so I was brought to a full consciousness of the sacredness
of the thought, and became deeply interested to discover if there was
a possible reality to the return, by Spirit, of one who had passed
over the border and ever since have devoted to this effort my heart and
soul and what brain power I possess. In this frame of mind I began a
new line of psychical research in all seriousness and from that time to
the present I have never entered a seance room except with an open mind
devoutly anxious to learn if intercommunication is within the range of
possibilities and with a willingness to accept any demonstration which
proves a revelation of truth.

It is this question as to the truth or falsity of intercommunication
between the dead and the living, more than anything else, that has
claimed my attention and to which I have devoted years of research and
conscientious study. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle says in one of his lectures:

“When one has a knock at the door, one does not pause, but goes further
to see what causes it and investigates, and sooner or later one
discovers that a message is being delivered,...”

So I have gone to investigate the knocks, but as a result of my
efforts I must confess that I am farther than ever from belief in the
genuineness of Spirit manifestations and after twenty-five years of
ardent research and endeavor I declare that nothing has been revealed
to convince me that intercommunication has been established between the
Spirits of the departed and those still in the flesh.

I have made compacts with fourteen different persons that whichever of
us died first would communicate with the other if it were possible,
but I have never received a word. The first of these compacts was made
more than twenty-five years ago and I am certain that if any one of the
persons could have reached me he would have done so. One compact was
made with my private secretary, the late John W. Sargent, a man of
mature years. We were very much attached to each other. The day before
he underwent an operation he said to me:

“Houdini, this may be the end. If it is, I am coming back to you no
matter what happens on the other side provided there is any way I can
reach you. And if I can come, you will know it is I because I am going
to will it so strong that you cannot be mistaken.”

He died the next day. That was more than three years ago and there
has been no sign. I have waited and watched believing that if any man
ever could have sent back word he would have been the man. And I know
that our minds were so close to each other that I would have received
the signal that my friend wanted to call me. No one could accuse me of
being unwilling to receive such a sign because it would have been the
greatest enlightenment I could possibly have had in this world.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a sincere and confirmed believer in Spirit
phenomena whose acquaintance I esteem, advises me that I do not secure
convincing results because I am a skeptic and I therefore want to
make it clear that I am not a scoffer. I firmly believe in a Supreme
Being and that there is a Hereafter. Therefore since their departure
from this earth it has been my practice, as a final duty, to visit
the sacred resting places of my dearly beloved parents, and ask their
protection and silent blessings through the Omnipotent Almighty.
The very first place I visit when I return from a trip is this same
hallowed spot. Both promised me faithfully innumerable times in this
life that if they could aid and protect me from their graves or from
the Great Beyond, they would do so. My mind has always been open and
receptive and ready to believe. In attending seances I have always
made a pledge of honor with myself to banish all profane thoughts
from my mind to the utmost of my ability. I further pledge myself to
concentrate. I have persuaded my whole soul, brain and thought to a
point where the medium has my attention to such an extent that at
the finish I feel as much exhausted as the medium who shows to those
present the effects of great strain irrespective of its cause. Thus it
must be seen that I am not a skeptic. However, it has been my life work
to invent and publicly present problems, the secrets of which not even
the members of the magical profession have been able to discover, and
the effects of which have proved as inexplicable to the scientists as
any marvel of the mediums, and I claim that in so far as the revelation
of trickery is concerned my years of investigation have been more
productive than the same period of similar work by any scientist; that
my record as a “mystifier of mystifiers” qualifies me to look below
the surface of any mystery problem presented to me and that with my
eyes trained by thirty years’ experience in the realms of mystery and
occultism it is not strange that I view these so-called phenomena
from a different angle than the ordinary layman or even the expert

A memorable incident in my life and one that shows how little the world
at large understands the methods by which my mysteries are produced
and also shows how easy it is for even a great intellect, faced with
a mystery it cannot fathom, to conclude that there is something
supernatural involved, has to do with Madame Sarah Bernhardt.

During one of my various engagements in Paris she had witnessed my
performances and was anxious to see one of my outdoor exploits, so,
when we were both playing at the same time in Boston, out of good
camaraderie I gave a special performance at my hotel adding a few
extra experiments for her benefit. As we were seated in the motor
car on the way to my demonstration she placed her arm gently around
my shoulder, and in that wonderful speaking voice with which she was
gifted and which has thrilled thousands of auditors, but now stilled
forever, she said to me:

“Houdini, you do such marvellous things. Couldn’t you--could you bring
back my leg for me?”

I looked at her, startled, and failing to see any mischievous sparkle
in her eye replied:

“Good heavens, Madame, certainly not; you cannot be serious. You
know my powers are limited and you are actually asking me to do the

“Yes,” she said as she leaned closer to me, “but you do the impossible.”

We looked at each other; she, the travel-worn, experienced woman of the
world; I, the humble mystifier, nonplussed and thunderstruck at the
extraordinary, unintentional compliment she was paying me. Then I asked:

“Are you jesting?”

“_Mais non, Houdini, j’ai jamais été plus sèrieux dans ma vie_,”[1] she
answered as she slowly shook her head.

“Madame, you exaggerate my ability,” I told her.

Each of the marvels of modern scientific achievement such as the
telephone, radio, flying machine, radium, etc., were at one time
classed as impossible and would have been looked upon as supernatural,
if not Spiritual manifestations. Similar mysteries, but more frail in
principle and constructive detail, were the instruments used by the
priestcraft of ancient religious cults for the purpose of holding the
mass of unintelligent beings in servitude.

It is not unusual for the eye or ear to play tricks with one but when
such illusions and delusions are taken for the Spirit forms of the
departed and voices of the dead instead of being recognized as some
subjective phenomena brought about by a physical cause the situation
takes on a grave aspect. It is this transfer of an inner reaction to an
external object which constitutes practically all that is necessary to
be placed in the category of “psychics,” who represent the priests and
ministers of Spiritualism.

Distressed relatives catch at the least word which may remotely
indicate that the Spirit which they seek is in communication with them.
One little sign even, which appeals to their waiting imagination,
shatters all ordinary caution and they are converted. Then they
begin to accept all kinds of natural events as results of Spirit
intervention. This state of mind is productive of many misfortunes,
including suicides by those who think they are going to happiness
with loved ones beyond the pale. When in Europe in 1919 finishing
an engagement interrupted by the World War I was impressed by the
eagerness of grief-stricken parents for the solace of a word from the
boy who had passed on and my desire for the truth was renewed with
fresh vigor. I am informed that so great has the “medium” craze become
in Berlin that the grief-stricken residents have spent great sums of
money in the hope of discovering mediums who will “guarantee them a
glimpse behind the veil.” It is with the deepest interest and concern
that I have watched this great wave of Spiritualism sweep the world in
recent months and realized that it has taken such a hold on persons of
a neurotic temperament, especially those suffering from bereavement,
that it has become a menace to health and sanity.

Professor George M. Robertson, eminent psychopathologist, and
Physician-Superintendent of the Royal Edinburgh Mental Hospital, made
the danger of insanity resulting from strong belief in Spiritualism by
neurotics the subject of a part of his annual report in 1920. He says:

“Those who had sustained bereavements during the war and bore them with
equanimity in the days of crowded incidents and amidst the pressure of
war activities, such as Red Cross and other work, find it much harder
to bear up now, although time has elapsed. Some have broken down since
the war came to an end. Many, as a solace to their feelings, have taken
an interest in Spiritualism. Since Dr. Charles Mercier quoted in the
preface of his book ‘Spiritualism and Sir Oliver Lodge’ my warning on
the danger of neurotic persons engaging in practical inquiries of a
Spiritualistic nature, I have received many requests to say more on the
subject. I have little to add save to reaffirm the statement then made.

“I do not consider either Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Sir Oliver Lodge
to be safe judges, whose opinion should be accepted on this difficult
and important subject, in view of their bereavement and unconscious
desires. If the wish be father to the thought, it is mother to the
hallucination of the senses.

“The tricks the brain can play without calling in Spiritualistic aids
are simply astounding, and only those who have made a study of morbid
as well as normal psychology, realize the full truth of this.”

I have read with keen curiosity the articles by leading scientists on
the subject of psychic phenomena, particularly those by Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle and Sir Oliver Lodge, in which they have discussed their
respective conversions to a belief in communication with the dead.
There is no doubt in my mind that some of these scientists are
sincere in their belief but unfortunately it is through this very
_sincerity_ that thousands become converts. The fact that they are
_scientists_ does not endow them with an especial gift for detecting
the particular sort of fraud used by mediums, nor does it bar them from
being deceived, especially when they are fortified in their belief by
grief, for the various books and records of the subject are replete
with deceptions practised on noted scientists who have essayed to
investigate prominent mediums. It is perfectly rational to suppose
that I may be deceived once or twice by a new illusion, but if my
mind, which has been so keenly trained for years to invent mysterious
effects, can be deceived, how much more susceptible must the ordinary
observer be.

During my last trip abroad, in 1919, I attended over one hundred
seances with the sole purpose of honest investigation; these seances
were presided over by well-known mediums in France and England. In
addition to attending these seances I spent a great deal of time
conferring with persons prominently identified with Spiritualism.
In the course of my intense investigations I have met most of the
famous mediums of our time. I have submitted to conditions imposed
by them and religiously awaited results, but I still question any
so-called proof of the existence of Spirits who are interested in any
way, physically or mentally, in the welfare of mortal men. It is not
within the province of this book, which is the result of my years of
investigation, to give all the historical detail concerning every
medium mentioned, though enough are furnished in each instance to
establish my claims, each of which is based on a thorough study of
the records as are also my statements many of which are supported by
documentary evidence in my possession.

I have spent a goodly part of my life in study and research. During
the last thirty years I have read every single piece of literature on
the subject of Spiritualism that I could. I have accumulated one of
the largest libraries in the world on psychic phenomena, Spiritualism,
magic, witchcraft, demonology, evil spirits, etc., some of the material
going back as far as 1489, and I doubt if any one in the world has so
complete a library on modern Spiritualism, but nothing I ever read
concerning the so-called Spiritualistic phenomena has impressed me
as being genuine. It is true that some of the things I read seemed
mystifying but I question if they would be were they to be reproduced
under different circumstances, under _test conditions_, and before
expert mystifiers and open minded committees. Mine has not been an
investigation of a few days or weeks or months but one that has
extended over thirty years and in that thirty years I have not found
one incident that savoured of the genuine. If there had been any real
unalloyed demonstration to work on, one that did not reek of fraud,
one that could not be reproduced by earthly powers, then there would
be something for a foundation, but up to the present time everything
that I have investigated has been the result of deluded brains or those
which were too actively and intensely willing to believe.



Gladly would I embrace Spiritualism if it could prove its claims, but I
am not willing to be deluded by the fraudulent impositions of so-called
psychics, or accept as sacred reality any of the evidence that has been
placed before me thus far.

The ancients’ childish belief in demonology and witchcraft; the
superstitions of the civilized and uncivilized, and those marvellous
mysteries of past ages are all laughed at by the full grown sense of
the present generation; yet we are asked, in all seriousness, by a few
scientists and scholars, to accept as absolute truth such testimony as
is built up by their pet mediums, which, so far, has been proven to be
nothing beyond a more or less elaborate construction of fiction resting
on the slenderest of foundations, or rather, absolutely no foundation.

Not only educated men and women with emotional longings for some
assurance of the continued existence of departed loved ones, but people
of all phases and conditions of life, have completely surrendered
themselves to belief in the most monstrous fiction, vouched for by
only a single witness of the so-called phenomenon, and that too when
the medium, through whom the phenomenon was supposed to have presented
itself, had been caught cheating time and again.

I believe in a Hereafter and no greater blessing could be bestowed upon
me than the opportunity, once again, to speak to my sainted Mother who
awaits me with open arms to press me to her heart in welcome, just as
she did when I entered this mundane sphere.


_Spring, 1924._




The story of modern spirit manifestations, so called, dates from
1848 and the “solitary farmhouse” of John D. Fox and his wife in the
village of Hydesville, in New York State, and centres around their
two little girls, Margaret, eight, and Kate, younger by a year and
a half. Successfully exploited while still children; credited with
occult power; becoming world-famous as “The Fox Sisters,”--their record
is, without exception, one of the most interesting in the history of

John Fox and his wife appear to have been of the “good, honest,” but
not mentally keen type of farmer folk. Of the two, the wife was the
more “simple minded,” and when the “nervous, superstitious woman”
began to hear unusual noises which she could not account for, and
which seemed in some peculiar manner connected with her children, she
concluded at once that the sounds were “unnatural” and began to brood
over the matter. Her fears increased with the persistent recurrence of
the mysterious sounds, and before long she took some of the neighbors
into her confidence. They were as puzzled as the mother, the Fox home
became an object of suspicion and the neighborhood set itself the task
of solving the mystery.

With the increase of interest came a proportionate increase in the
noises, which commenced to be known as “rappings,” and which, in spite
of the positive denials by the children of any knowledge of how they
were produced, regularly answered by an uncanny code questions asked
the two girls. The possibility of duplicity in such children never
occurred to any one in Hydesville, with the result that the timid hint
of a “disembodied spirit” soon became a theory. Some one asked the
girls if a murder had ever been committed in the house. The ominous
sounds of the code answered in the affirmative and at once to the eager
investigators, the theory became a proven fact and there flashed up in
their minds the vision of a personality in the Spirit World endeavoring
by crude means, which somewhat resembled telegraphy, to give to human
beings the benefit of its vaster knowledge, the whole affair in some
obscure manner being connected with two little girls.

At this critical moment a married daughter of John D. Fox and his wife
came home to Hydesville for a visit. Twenty-three years older than
little Margaret, of a very different type than either father or mother,
she seems to have grasped instantly the possibilities in the “occult”
powers of her little sisters and to have taken complete command of the
Fox family’s affairs at once. Her first move was to organize a “Society
of Spiritualists” and encourage crowds to come to the house to see
the children. Hydesville became famous almost overnight. News of the
peculiar “rappings” spread with lightning-like rapidity and soon became
an absorbing topic of conversation, not only in the United States, but
in England, France, Italy, and Germany as well. Women like Harriet
Martineau and Elizabeth Barrett Browning were said to have given their
whole thought to it, and men of the strongest intellect and will to be
“caught in the meshes it had woven in contemporaneous thought.”

Hydesville became too small a field for the operations of Mrs. Fish,
the older sister, very quickly, and soon she appears in Rochester with
the girls, publicly exhibiting their feats to great crowds for money,
realizing from one hundred to a hundred and fifty dollars a night in
profits, which she pocketed. From Rochester she took them to New York
City, and later the girls made a tour of the cities of the United
States, attracting the “most prominent theologians, physicians, and
professional men of all kinds, as well as great crowds everywhere.”
There is no record that the girls were ever under the management of
Mrs. Fish after they left New York City although she menaced them
continually and Margaret feared her as long as she lived.

The grand tour over, Kate, sponsored by Horace Greeley, went to school
and Margaret, just developing into an attractive young woman, and
destined to become the more famous of the two mediums, began a series
of seances in rooms occupied by herself and mother at the Union Hotel
in Philadelphia. There romance entered her life on a day in 1853 in the
person of Dr. Elisha Kent Kane, the noted Arctic explorer.

His had been a remarkable career. Belonging to one of the most
aristocratic families in Philadelphia; the son of a judge; handsome;
still under thirty-four; graduated more than ten years previously from
the University of Pennsylvania, he had gone out to China with Commodore
Parker as “surgeon of the embassy,” later obtained a leave of absence
and travelled through Greece on foot, went up the Nile, toured India,
Ceylon, and the South Sea Islands, and even “dared the Himalayas.”
The Mexican War had furnished him an opportunity to “win spurs for
gallantry.” and, this over, he had joined a relief expedition which
went in search of Sir John Franklin in 1850.[2]

This much travelled, much experienced man of the world was instantly
and irresistibly attracted to the young medium. An acquaintance
was formed and it was not long before Doctor Kane determined that,
regardless of all obstacles, she should be his wife. In spite of the
efforts of his family, he soon made arrangements to educate Margaret,
and she was placed with a tutor in a quiet suburb of Philadelphia,
where an aunt of the doctor’s could have an oversight of her and where
in addition to her other studies she was to be made proficient in
French, German, and Italian, as well as vocal and instrumental music.
Her vacations were spent with a sister of Senator Cockrell. For some
three or four years she was thus sheltered from the world, while the
doctor did all in his power to eradicate from her mind everything
connected with spiritualism and “rappings.” Then came the turn of the

The doctor became broken in health as a result of exposure in the
Arctic and decided to go abroad. There had been neither civil or
religious ceremony to mark his marriage to Margaret, but just before he
sailed, in the presence of her mother and other witnesses, he declared
that they were husband and wife. His health grew worse in London and
he left there for the West Indies, where Margaret and her mother were
to join him, but their preparations for the journey were cut short by
the announcement in the papers of his death in Havana on the 16th of
February, 1857. Margaret was prostrated by the blow. A long sickness
followed and when she finally recovered it was to face the world, not
only friendless and alone, but penniless as well, for, owing to a
compromise, she did not share in the doctor’s estate. Disappointed,
disheartened, and bitter she went back to her Spiritualism and
“rappings.” For thirty years she wandered from place to place holding
seances. For thirty years she suffered the tortures of remorse and ill
health. She believed she was being driven “into hell.” She loathed
the thing she was, and tried at times to drown her troubles in wine.
For thirty years she lived in constant fear of her older sister. Then
Margaret Kane found a temporary solace in the Catholic Church. But
there were still more months of struggle before she finally found
courage to tell the story of the world-famous “rappings” in a signed
confession given to the press in October, 1888.[3]

“I do this,” she said, “because I consider it my duty, a sacred thing,
a holy mission, to expose it (Spiritualism). I want to see the day when
it is entirely done away with. After I expose it I hope Spiritualism
will be given a death blow. I was the first in the field and I have a
right to expose it.[4]

“My sister Katie and I were very young children when this horrible
deception began. I was only eight, just a year and a half older than
she. We were very mischievous children and sought merely to terrify our
dear mother, who was a very good woman and very easily frightened.

“When we went to bed at night we used to tie an apple to a string and
move the string up and down, causing the apple to bump on the floor,
or we would drop the apple on the floor, making a strange noise every
time it would rebound. Mother listened to this for a time. She would
not understand it and did not suspect us as being capable of a trick
because we were so young.

“At last she could stand it no longer and she called the neighbors in
and told them about it. It was this that set us to discover a means of
making the raps more effectually. I think, when I reflect about it,
that it was a most wonderful discovery, a very wonderful thing that
children should make such a discovery, and all through a desire to do
mischief only.[5]

“Our oldest sister was twenty-three years of age when I was born. She
was in Rochester when these tricks first began but came to Hydesville,
the little village in central New York where we were born and lived.

“All the neighbors around, as I have said, were called in to witness
these manifestations. There were so many people coming to the house
that we were not able to make use of the apple trick except when we
were in bed and the room was dark. Even then we could hardly do it, so
the only way was to rap on the bedstead.

“And that is the way we began. First, as a mere trick to frighten
mother, and then, when so many people came to see us children, we were
ourselves frightened, and for self-preservation forced to keep it up.
No one suspected us of any trick because we were such young children.
We were led on by my sister purposely and by mother unintentionally. We
often heard her say:

“‘Is this a disembodied spirit that has taken possession of my dear

“That encouraged our fun and we went on. All the neighbors thought
there was something and they wanted to find out what it was. They were
convinced that some one had been murdered in the house. They asked the
spirits through us about it and we would rap one for the spirit answer
‘yes,’ not three as we did afterwards. The murder they concluded must
have been committed in the house. They went over the whole surrounding
country trying to get the names of people who had formerly lived in the
house. Finally they found a man by the name of Bell, and they said that
this poor innocent man had committed a murder in the house and that
the noises came from the spirit of the murdered person. Poor Bell was
shunned and looked upon by the whole community as a murderer.[6]

“Mrs. Underhill, my eldest sister, took Katie and me to Rochester.
There it was that we discovered a new way to make the raps. My sister
Katie was the first to observe that by swishing her fingers she could
produce certain noises with her knuckles and joints, and that the same
effect could be made with the toes. Finding that we could make raps
with our feet--first with one foot and then with both--we practiced
until we could do this easily when the room was dark.

“Like most perplexing things when made clear, it is astonishing how
easily it is done. The rappings are simply the result of a perfect
control of the muscles of the leg below the knee, which govern the
tendons of the foot and allow action of the toe and ankle bones that
is not commonly known. Such perfect control is only possible when a
child is taken at an early age and carefully and continually taught
to practice the muscles, which grow stiff in later years. A child at
twelve is almost too old. With control of the muscles of the foot, the
toes may be brought down to the floor without any movement that is
perceptible to the eye. The whole foot, in fact, can be made to give
rappings by the use only of the muscles below the knee. This, then, is
the simple explanation of the whole method of the knocks and raps.

“In Rochester Mrs. Underhill gave exhibitions. We had crowds coming
to see us and she made as much as a hundred to a hundred and fifty
dollars a night. She pocketed this. Parties came in from all parts to
see us. Many as soon as they heard a little rap were convinced. To
all questions we answered by raps. We knew when to rap ‘yes’ or ‘no’
according to certain signs which Mrs. Underhill gave us during the

“A great many people when they hear the rapping imagine at once that
the spirits are touching them. It is a very common delusion. Some
very wealthy people came to see me some years ago when I lived in
Forty-second Street and I did some rappings for them. I made the spirit
rap on the chair and one of the ladies cried out:

“‘I feel the spirit tapping me on the shoulder.’

“Of course that was pure imagination.

“Katie and I were led around like lambs. We went to New York from
Rochester and then all over the United States. We drew immense crowds.
I remember particularly Cincinnati. We stopped at the Burnett House.
The rooms were jammed from morning till night and we were called upon
by those old wretches to show our rappings when we should have been out
at play in the fresh air.

“Nobody has ever suspected anything from the start in 1848 until
the present day as to any trickery in our methods. There has never
been a detection.[7] But as the world grew wise and science began to
investigate we began to adapt our experiments to our audiences. Our
seances were held in a room. There was a centre-table in the middle and
we all stood around it.

“As far as _Spirits_ were concerned neither my sister nor I thought
about it. I know that there is no such thing as the departed returning
to this life. Many people have said to me that such a thing was
possible and seemed to believe so firmly in it that I tried to see, and
I have tried in every form and know that it cannot be done.

“After I married, Dr. Kane would not let me refer to my old life--he
wanted me to forget it. But when I was poor, after his death, I was
driven to it again, and I wish to say clearly that I owe all my
misfortune to that woman, my sister. I have asked her time and again:

“‘Now that you are rich why don’t you save your soul?’

“But at my words she would fly into a passion. She wanted to establish
a new religion and she told me that she received messages from spirits.
She knew that we were tricking people but she tried to make us believe
spirits existed. She told us that before we were born spirits came into
her room and told her that we were destined for great things.

“Yes, I am going to expose Spiritualism from its very foundation. I
have had the idea in my head for many a year but I have never come to
a determination before. I have thought of it day and night. I loathe
the thing I have been. I used to say to those who wanted me to give a

“‘You are driving me into Hell.’

“Then the next day I would drown my remorse in wine. I was too honest
to remain a ‘medium.’ That’s why I gave up my exhibitions. I have seen
so much miserable deception! Every morning of my life I have it before
me. When I wake up I brood over it. That is why I am willing to state
that Spiritualism is a fraud of the worst description. I have had a
life of sorrow, I have been poor and ill, but I consider it my duty, a
sacred thing, a holy mission to expose it. I want to see the day when
it is entirely done away with. After my sister Katie and I expose it I
hope Spiritualism will be given a death blow.

“I do not want it understood that the Catholic Church has advised me
to make these public exposures and confession. It is my own idea. My
own mission. I would have done it long ago if I could have had the
necessary money and courage to do it. I could not find anyone to help
me--I was too timid to ask.

“I am now very poor. I intend, however, to expose Spiritualism because
I think it is my sacred duty. If I cannot do it who can? I who have
been the beginning of it? At least I hope to reduce the ranks of the
eight million Spiritualists in the country. I go into it as into a holy
war. I am waiting anxiously and fearlessly for the moment when I can
show the world, by personal demonstration, that all Spiritualism is a
fraud and a deception. It is a branch of legerdemain, but it has to be
closely studied to gain perfection. None but a child at an early age,
would have ever attained the proficiency and wrought such widespread
evil as I have.

[Illustration: JOHN D. FOX AND HIS WIFE]


“I trust that this statement, coming solemnly from me, the first and
the most successful in this deception, will break the rapid growth of
Spiritualism and prove that it is all a fraud, hypocrisy and delusion.

                                   (Signed) “Margaret Fox Kane.”[8]

Mrs. Kane’s “confession” was published in the Sunday edition of
the New York _World_ on October 21, 1888. Arrangements had been
made for her to give a public demonstration and exposition of the
so-called “marvellous” Spiritualistic “phenomena” that same evening
at the Academy of Music in New York. Meanwhile, in order to foil the
“attempts” of certain mediums to “kidnap her” she was being closely
guarded at her hotel where during the day she was interviewed by
newspaper men. Expecting when she left her room to answer questions
only she nevertheless readily consented to give some evidence of “how
the trick was done” in order to do all in her power to “complete the
exposure and demonstrate the utter absurdity of the claim made by
mediums that she was possessed of spiritual power in spite of her
denials.” The _World_ reporter told of this private demonstration as

“‘Now,’ said Mrs. Kane, ‘I will stand up before these folding-doors and
you may stand as near as you please and I will call up any “spirit”
that you wish and answer any questions. One rap means “no” and three
raps mean “yes.” Are you ready?’

“‘Is Napoleon Bonaparte present?’ the reporter asked, watching Mrs.
Kane closely. Three raps (yes).

“‘Does he know me? I mean did he ever meet and converse with me?’ Three

“‘That is strange, isn’t it,’ remarked Mrs. Kane, smiling, ‘in view of
the fact that he must have died before you were born? Try again.’

“‘Is Abraham Lincoln present?’ Three raps.

“‘Well you see the “spirits” are very obliging.’

“‘Will Harrison be elected?’ One loud rap (no).

“‘Will President Cleveland get another term?’ Three raps.”

That night some two thousand or more persons crowded the Academy of
Music to witness the sensational exposé. Most of them were sober,
sensible people who “hailed with delight” the announcement that one
of the famous Fox Sisters was to make a “clean breast of her share in
Spiritualistic humbuggery.” But certain portions of the house were
packed with pronounced Spiritualists, men and women who regarded
all efforts to disillusion the public as so many personal insults,
and when, previous to Mrs. Kane’s appearance, Dr. C. M. Richmond, a
prominent New York dentist who had spent twenty years and thousands
of dollars investigating mediumistic tricks and wiles explained and
demonstrated in full light the full methods of producing them, this
Spiritualistic contingent became decidedly hostile and when Mrs. Kane
finally stepped before the big audience to “confess orally what she
had already confessed in print” she was laboring under too great a
nervous strain to make any “intelligent utterance.” Those in charge of
the affair realizing that an address was out of the question at once
suggested that she immediately give a demonstration of the “rappings.”
One of the New York papers the next morning published the following
description of what happened.[9]

“But if her tongue had lost its power her preternatural toe joint had
not. A plain wooden stool, or table, resting upon four short legs and
having the properties of a sounding board was placed in front of her.
Removing her shoe, she placed her right foot upon this little table.

“The entire house became breathlessly still and was rewarded by a
number of little short, sharp raps--those mysterious sounds which have
for forty years frightened and bewildered hundreds of thousands of
people in this country and in Europe.

“A committee consisting of three physicians taken from the audience
then ascended the stage, and having made an examination of her foot
during the progress of the rappings, unhesitatingly agreed that the
sounds were made by the action of the first joint of her large toe.

“The demonstration was perfect and complete and only the most
hopelessly prejudiced and bigoted fanatics of Spiritualism could
withstand the irresistible force of this commonplace explanation and
exhibition of how spirit rappings are produced.”

The exposure attracted widespread attention. Letters poured in from
far and wide begging for confirmation, explanation or denial. The rest
of the tribe of mediums naively hinted that if there had been fraud it
was well to have it exposed but of course _they_ were genuine. Many
who had believed in Spiritualism wrote most pathetically. One of these
writing from San Francisco says:

“I have been a believer in the phenomena from its first inception
through you and your sister, believing it to be true since that time.

“I am now eighty-one years old and have but a short time of course, to
remain in this world, and I feel a great anxiety to know through you if
I have been deceived all this time in a matter of vital interest to us

But perhaps of them all none better expresses what a blow the exposure
was to thousands who had accepted as genuine the messages of the
mysterious raps or describes more vividly the effect of Spiritualism
on many who are attracted to it than the following from a woman in

“Hundreds of thousands have believed through you and you alone.
Hundreds of thousands eagerly ask you whether all the glorious light
that they fancied you had given them, was but the false flicker of a
common dip-candle of fraud.

“If, as you say, you were forced to pursue this imposture from
childhood, I can forgive you, and I am sure God will; for he turns not
back the truly repentant. I will not upbraid you. I am sure you have
suffered as much as any penalty, human or divine, could cause you to
suffer. The disclosures that you make take from me all that I have
cherished most. There is nothing left for me now but to hope for the
reality of that repose which death promises us.

“It is perhaps better that the delusion should be at last swept away by
one single word, and that word ‘fraud.’

[Illustration: LEAH FOX FISH]

[Illustration: KATIE FOX JENCKEN]

[Illustration: MARGARET FOX KANE]

[Illustration: ELISHA KENT KANE, M.D.]

“I know that the pursuit of this shadowy belief has wrought upon
my brain and that I am no longer my old self. Money I have spent
in thousands and thousands of dollars within a few short years to
propitiate the ‘mediumistic’ intelligence. It is true that never once
have I received a message or the token of a word that did not leave a
still unsatisfied longing in my heart, a feeling that it was not really
my loved one after all who was speaking to me, or if it was my loved
one that he was changed, that I hardly knew him and he hardly knew
me. But that must have been the true intuition. It is better that the
delusion is past, after all, for had I kept on in that way, I am sure
I should have gone mad. The constant seeking, the frequent pretended
response, its unsatisfying meaning, the sense of distance and change
between me and my loved one--oh! it has been horrible, horrible!

“He who is dying of thirst and has the sweet cup ever snatched from his
lips, just as the first drop touches them--he alone can know what in
actual things is the similitude of this Spiritualistic torture.

“God bless you, for I think that you now speak the truth. You have
my forgiveness at least, and I believe that thousands of others will
forgive you, for the atonement made in season wipes out much of the
stain of the early sin.”

Margaret Kane’s “confession” did not bring her the relief or friends
she had hoped for, nor did it end her connection with Spiritualism for,
glad as she would have been to give it up for good, her theatrical
exposure was a financial failure and before long she was down and
out again and once more she resorted to Spiritualism as a means of
livelihood, giving seances and mediumistic meetings in a number of
cities throughout the United States; but her power of fooling the
public was gone. Having confessed to deceit once, no amount of
persuasion on her part could convince the public that she was genuine,
and in place of the thousands who had flocked to her in her younger
days she never had more than a handful at her meetings. Her only
friends were Spiritualists for strangely enough some of them still had
faith in her, even when she was exposing Spiritualism, believing that
she had fallen into the hands of evil spirits when she confessed that
she was a fraud.

Some time after the confession a “recantation” was circulated as coming
from Mrs. Kane. I was never able to find any proof of its authenticity
but my friend, Mr. W. S. Davis, who knew her well, informed me that
she did make it--that she had to, or starve. It was not wholly
voluntary though as Mr. Newton (then President of the First Society of
Spiritualists) convinced her that it would be for her interest, and the
interest of Spiritualism as well to do it. It made little difference,
however, for the career of the unfortunate woman was nearly over.
Frequently overcome by drink, forced on by privation and misery, death
came to her, on March 8, 1895, less than seven years after she had
stood in a crowded theatre and deliberately shown the method of making
the raps which had brought her fame for four decades.

The Fox Sisters used Spiritualism only as a means to “get while the
getting was good.” Fortunately for the general public Spiritualism
received a severe jolt in the confession of Margaret Fox Kane; there
was an end to the Fox “swindle” and an untold amount of blood-money
and grief saved to poor misguided souls so easily fooled by a simple
physical trick.



Such evidence of spirits as the simple “rappings” of the Fox Sisters
soon gave place to more elaborate “manifestations” and with the
appearance of Ira Erastus Davenport and his brother William Henry
Harrison Davenport, working together, and known as the “Davenport
Brothers,” these manifestations became complicated exhibitions
involving the use of a cabinet, rope tricks, bells, and various
horns and musical instruments. These brothers have always been, and
are still, pointed to as being indisputable proof of the reality
and genuineness of mediumistic phenomena and public interest in
Spiritualism was greatly stimulated by the tremendous sensation and
discussion caused by their demonstrations, yet an interesting train of
circumstances put me in possession of facts more than sufficient to
disprove their having, or even claiming, spiritualistic power.

During many of the years in which I have been making a study of
Spiritualism I supposed both of the Davenports dead and when my
friend, Harry Kellar, in recounting some of his early experiences and
hardships told me that he had been associated with them at one time and
that Ira Davenport was still living I was surprised indeed. I at once
communicated with him and there followed a pleasant acquaintance which
lasted until his death and furnished me with much of historic value
concerning the brothers which has never appeared in print.

Heretofore all published accounts of the Davenport Brothers’ doings
have been vague, speculative, lacking in actual knowledge, and
misleading because the authors have been victims of delusion, but
the information here given is based on a long correspondence with
Ira Davenport as well as an open hearted confession which he made to
me shortly before his death, answering all my questions unreservedly
and offering to assist me in every way he could as he wanted my
statements[12] to be accurate in the book on Spiritualism which he knew
I was writing.

The Davenport Brothers were devotedly attached to each other and when
in 1877 William died while they were in Australia, Ira the surviving
brother was completely upset. He made one feeble attempt to reinstate
himself, but the “Spirit” was lacking and he returned, a discouraged
man, to spend the remainder of his days in peace and quiet at home.
While playing Australia early in 1910 for Harry Rickards I hunted
up the grave of William Davenport and finding it sadly neglected I
had it put in order, fresh flowers planted on it and the stone work
repaired.[13] It was also on this trip that I met William M. Fay of
“Davenport Brothers and Fay,” who told me many interesting things about
the brothers and on my return to America one of the first things which
I did was to go to Maysville, Chautauqua County, New York, to make Ira
Davenport a visit. He met me at the station and took me to his home, an
exceptionally happy and restful one presided over by the second Mrs.
Davenport, the first having died in childbirth.

This second marriage was most romantic. During a seance which the
Brothers were giving in Paris[14] Ira noticed a strikingly beautiful
Belgian girl intently watching him. After the performance he managed
to meet her only to find that she could not speak a word of English.
His French being limited to the usual two or three word table d’hôte
vocabulary of the average American tourist he called his interpreter
and through him asked the girl to become his wife. Bewildered by such
an audacious proposal she blushed deeply, and cast down her eyes, then
slowly raising them looked straight into Ira’s. There was a quick
exchange of admiration and her woman’s intuition must have read deeply
and correctly for she then and there consented to wed this American
who had so unconventionally asked her to be his wife, a decision which
she never had occasion to regret for they were a remarkably happy

In the tranquil atmosphere of his porch we turned back the pages of
time, Mr. Davenport re-living in retrospect the trials, battles, praise
and applause of long ago. Among other things we talked over the magical
mystery performers of other days which led him to say very generously:

“Houdini, you know more about the old timers and my arguments, than I
who lived through those troublesome times.”

He said that he recognized in me a past master of the craft and
therefore spoke openly and did not hesitate to tell me the secrets of
his feats. We discussed and analyzed the statements made in his letters
to me and he frankly admitted that the work of the Davenport Brothers
was accomplished by perfectly natural means and belonged to that class
of feats commonly credited to “physical dexterity.” Not once was there
even a hint that Spiritualism was of any concern to him, instead,
discussing his work as straightforward showmanship.

For me it was a memorable day and did not end with the setting of the
sun, for we talked far into the night,[16] I with notebook in hand, he
with a long piece of rope initiating me into the mysteries of the real
“Davenport tie,” which converted thousands to a belief in Spiritualism
and was the genesis[17] of the rope-tying stunts which gave such a
stimulus to Spiritualistic discussion in connection with the brothers.
Though many attempts were made to imitate it, to the best of my
knowledge and belief, no one, not even the magical fraternity, was ever
able to detect the method used in these famous rope tricks, the secret
being guarded so carefully that Ira Davenport’s children did not know
it. I have tested it and for uses such as they made of it I consider it
one of the best rope ties in existence to-day, and it is only because
I want it on record when I eventually pass to the Beyond that I am
explaining to the public the _modus operandi_ which was as follows.

Built into either side of the cabinet used by the Davenports[18] was a
bench through which two holes had been bored a little distance apart.
The Brothers seated themselves on these benches, and opposite one
another, with their feet squarely on the floor in front of them. The
end of a rope was passed around the legs of one of the brothers, close
up by the knees, and tied. The rope was then wound around the legs
several times, fastened at the ankles, the remaining portion carried
straight across the cabinet to the other brother’s ankles, fastened,
wound about his legs and tied at the knees. A shorter piece of rope
was then tied to each of their wrists with the knots lying next to the
pulse. These ropes were threaded through the holes and the wrists drawn
down to the benches, and the ends of the ropes fastened to the ankles.

Their method of releasing themselves was comparatively simple. While
one extended his feet the other drew his in thus securing slack enough
in the wrist ropes to permit working their hands out of the loops.[19]
The second brother was released by reversing the action.

After the demonstrations were completed the brothers slipped their
hands back into the loops from which they had drawn them, placed their
feet in the original positions and were ready to be examined. When the
cabinet was opened the ropes appeared as taut as when put on by the

In order to disprove the frequently made claim that the Davenports
left their benches to produce certain manifestations they asked
investigating committees to place sheets of paper under their feet
and mark around them with pencil or crayon thus making it seemingly
impossible to move a foot without detection. But this in no way
interfered or hindered in their performance for Ira told me they used
to slide their feet, paper and all, and still keep the feet inside the
marks, a method I can vouch for as being practical for I have tried it

With the advantage of working together it was simply impossible to
secure both of the brothers in such a manner as to prevent their
producing the expected results. If one was in trouble the other was
always ready to come to the rescue for no matter how securely the
committee tied them one was sure to be more loosely tied than the other
and could get a hand free to reach over and help.

“There was one chance in twenty million to hold us both at the same
time,” Ira told me.[21]

The Davenports’ strictest test was known as “The Tie Around the Neck.”
This was also explained to me by Ira. A committee of three was called
upon one of whom was a woman and for that reason the least suspected
although in reality a confederate.[22] She and the Davenports were each
in turn tied around the neck. The woman released herself by cutting the
rope.[23] Hiding the pieces in her bloomers she performed her share of
the manifestations and retied herself with a duplicate piece of rope.
No one was the wiser for so curiously allied are our five senses that
the committee, bereft of its sight while such dark deeds were being
done, seemed to have lost the use of its reasoning power as well.

The first of the Davenports’ public performances were given in a large
hall with rows of seats for the audience and a small raised platform
which served as a stage. Someone, thinking to prevent the possibility
of assistance by visitors, or confederates in the audience, asked if it
were possible to have the manifestations occur in a closet. Receiving
an affirmative answer one was built with openings large enough to
“insert the spirit hands.” This closet was a decided advantage to the
Brothers as it gave them an opportunity to work in total darkness
which was an essential element of their performance. The closet was
improved upon by placing a big box in the center of the stage and there
gradually developed the cabinet[24] as we know it to-day.

During that eventful visit Ira emphatically denied many of the absurd
tales and popular beliefs concerning the Brothers, among them being
the “flour test,” the “snuff test”[25] and such stories as the claim
that when a boy at home he gave a seance for his parents and during
levitation[26] was raised up until his head touched the ceiling
breaking both lath and plaster; that he was once levitated across the
Niagara River, a distance of three thousand yards, and the one telling
of his having effected an escape by Spiritual means from a prison in
Oswego, N. Y., in 1859.

The Davenports were constantly on their guard against surprise and
exposure and Ira explained to me that when they were suspicious of a
committeeman who wanted to go into the cabinet with them they would
insist that he be tied too in order to prevent the audience from
thinking he was a confederate. Fastened to a bench as well as to each
of the Davenports he was absolutely helpless for while one was getting
loose the other would strain the ropes on the committeeman’s feet
holding him tight.

He also told me that they were in the habit of reserving seats in the
front row for their friends as a protection against anyone breaking
through. At private circles they ran a cord through button holes on
all present, ostensibly to “prevent collusion with the medium,” but in
reality as a protection against a surprise seizure. They once heard
that the Pinkerton Detective agency had been hired to catch them and
in order to effectually forestall any meddler, they had a confederate
smuggle in a bear-trap and after the seance room was darkened set the
trap in the aisle.

I called Ira’s attention to a clipping concerning the “Dark Seances”
from the London _Post_, a conservative paper, which read:

“The musical instruments, bells, etc., were placed on the table; the
Brothers Davenport were then manacled, hands and feet, and securely
bound to the chairs by ropes. A chain of communication (though not a
circular one) was formed, and the instant the lights were extinguished
_the musical instruments appeared to be carried all about the room. The
current of air, which they occasioned in their rapid transit was felt
upon the faces of all present._

“The bells were loudly rung; the trumpets made knocks upon the floor,
_and the tambourine appeared running around the room, jingling with all
its might. At the same time sparks were observed as if passing from
South to West. Several persons exclaimed that they were touched by the
instruments, which on one occasion became so demonstrative that one
gentleman received a knock on the nasal organ which broke the skin and
caused a few drops of blood to flow._”

After I finished reading it Ira exclaimed:

“Strange how people imagine things in the dark! Why, the musical
instruments never left our hands yet many spectators would have taken
an oath that they heard them flying over their heads.”[27]

Ira Davenport positively disclaimed Spiritualistic power in his talk
with me, saying repeatedly that he and his brother never claimed to
be mediums or pretended their work to be Spiritualistic. He admitted,
however, that his parents died believing that the boys had super-human
power. In this connection he told me of a family by the name of Kidder
in which the boys faked Spiritualistic mediumship. The mother, a
simple woman easily misled, became a confirmed believer. After a time
the boys got tired of the game they were playing and confessed to her
that it was all a fake. The shock of the disillusion almost drove her
insane and Ira said it was the fear of a similar result which kept
him from confessing to his father the true nature of their work. So
when the father asked the boys to do tests for him they declared that
the spirits said “no” and explained that they could only do what the
_spirits_ asked.

But if the Davenport Brothers did not claim spiritual powers themselves
they nevertheless allowed others to claim them in their behalf. One
of the first to do this was J. B. Ferguson, variously known as “Mr.,”
“Rev.,” and “Dr.,” but I have no way of knowing how his titles came to
him or just what they represented. If I am not mistaken he had been a
minister in the Unitarian Church. He travelled with the Davenports as
their lecturer, a position filled later by Thomas L. Nichols. Ferguson
positively believed that everything accomplished by the Davenports
was done with the aid of spirits. That both Ferguson and Nichols
believed in Spiritualism is shown by their writings. Neither of them
were disillusioned regarding the spiritual powers of the Brothers, the
secret of the manifestations being religiously kept from them. Their
remarks were left to their own discretion, the Davenports thinking
it better showmanship to leave the whole matter for the audience to
draw its own conclusion after seeing the exhibition. Then too with a
minister as a lecturer who sincerely believed the phenomena many were
led to believe, which helped to fill the coffers, meet the expenses,
and increase the publicity which was a necessary part of the game.


In one of the letters which Ira wrote me he says:

“We never in public affirmed our belief in Spiritualism, that
we regarded as no business of the public; nor did we offer our
entertainment as the result of sleight-of-hand, or on the other hand
as Spiritualism. We let our friends and foes settle that as best they
could between themselves, but unfortunately, we were often the victims
of their disagreements.”

In a letter which Ira wrote from Maysville, dated January 19, 1909,
which I received while in Europe, he says:

“You must not fail to do me the honor of a visit when you return to
America, although two years is quite a long time, and in the mean time,
please let me hear from you whenever the ‘_Spirit_’ moves.

“Regarding the future, I think the possibilities within your grasp are
almost boundless, splendid new territory, all South of Central America,
Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, India, Spain, Portugal and Africa.”[28]

“My old-time travelling companion, William M. Fay, told me four years
ago while on a visit here from Australia, that he and Harry Kellar
cleared over $40,000 in about eight months in South America, and
Mexico, and that was thirty-four years ago, and that the opportunities
are now vastly improved, such as _railroads, instead of mules_,
increase of population, advance in civilization in those backward
countries. He says it would be a pleasure trip now to what it was when
he and Kellar had to travel on muleback. He was very enthusiastic on
the subject of making another tour and we would have done so but for
the fact that his physicians strongly advised against it on account of
poor health and weakened physical condition. He is living at present
in Melbourne, Australia, having settled there with his family in 1877,
shortly after the death of my brother, which occurred July 1, 1877.
He is not at all contented, notwithstanding his pleasant surroundings
and ample fortune; after a man has become a regular ‘_Globe Trotter_,’
I don’t think it possible for him to settle down and lead a quiet
monotonous life.... I wish here to say that our first tour through
Europe consumed four years, leaving this country, August 26, 1864,
returning September 29, 1868. Our second trip took us over three years,
leaving here March 22, 1874, and returning October 20, 1877, four
months after the death of my brother.”

When exhibiting in Liverpool the Davenports were the cause of quite
a riot[29] which not only militated against them but stirred up some
political strife as well. I will quote Ira’s account of it from a
letter to me dated January 19, 1909.


“Well, yes, regarding Liverpool, I have very vivid recollections, and
after forty-four years they are far from being ‘scenes of mystified
events,’ they were results of peculiar combinations, of unfortunate
circumstances, _professional jealousy_, _religious prejudice_,
_anti-American feeling_, with a few other disturbing elements thrown
in, including ‘fenianism,’[30] which was engaging the public attention
at that time, all worked up to a _white heat_ culminating in one of
the most spectacular displays of ‘English Fair Play’ that was ever
presented to an appreciative English public.... While in Liverpool and
some other towns in England, we could not appear in the streets without
being greeted by threatening crowds, with such exclamations as ‘Yankee
Doodle,’ ‘John Brown’s Body,’ ‘Barnum’s Humbug,’ ‘Yankee Swindle,’
‘Fegi Mermaid,’ and many other nice things too numerous to mention....

“I think my experience in Liverpool stands out as the most prominent
example of ‘Fair Play’ ever dealt out to any American citizens and a
nauseating example to all foreigners of ‘’ow’ the average Englishman
does things at ‘’ome.’... It was well known that we were Northern
men, and the world knows how the English sympathized with the slave
holders’ rebellion, and they did not miss any opportunity of showing
how they felt at the time on the subject. While pretending that their
brutal displays of hostility were caused by our refusal to be tied by
a particular kind of knot, in fact our only offence was, objecting
to be tortured at the risk of being permanently maimed or crippled
for life.... Our appeal to the British public at the time is a plain
truthful statement of the facts, regarding the riots in Liverpool,
Huddersfield, and Leeds which several of the English papers had the
fairness to publish. All England seemed to have gone mad on the subject
of cabinet smashing and speculative sharpers reaped a rich harvest
selling bogus pieces of smashed Davenport cabinet. Wood enough was sold
in small pieces to make ten times as many cabinets as the Davenport
Brothers ever used during their public career.... Although I am now in
my 70th year, I would not for one moment hesitate to face the public
of Liverpool, Huddersfield, and Leeds, and try conclusions with them
again, drawing no line or limitations except those of torturing or
maiming one for life.... I shall always feel a great deal of pleasure
in your success, especially in meeting and overcoming anything in the
nature of hostility and opposition. I remember seeing a notice of the
death of Dr. Slade quite a while ago. I became acquainted with him in
1860. He then resided in the State of Michigan.”

The above excerpt shows the pluck and courage of a genuine showman at
the age of seventy, still ready for a tussle with an entertainment
based on natural laws.

The Davenport Brothers while exhibiting in Manchester, England, had
the distinction of being publicly imitated and ridiculed by two
celebrated actors, Sir Henry Irving and Edward A. Sothern, who were
appearing at the Theatre Royal. With some friends they had witnessed
a performance by the Davenport Brothers and determined to expose what
Irving termed a “shameful imposture.” With the assistance of these men
he gave a private performance in imitation of the Davenport seance at a
popular club and was so successful that he was requested to repeat it
in a large hall. So on Saturday, February 25, 1865, the Library Hall
of the Manchester Athenæum was filled with an audience invited to
witness “a display of ‘preternatural philosophy’ in a private seance
à la Davenport provided by some well-known members of the theatrical
profession playing in the city.

A wig, a beard, a neckerchief, a tightly buttoned frock coat, and
artistic makeup so completely transformed Irving that he looked the
exact double of Dr. Ferguson. With his inimitable charm of manner
Irving assumed the dignified air and characteristic gestures of the
doctor and impersonating his reverend tones he gave an interesting and
semi-jocose address with just enough seriousness to keenly satirize
the old doctor and at its close received thunderous applause from the
delighted audience.[31]

Irving and his friends then proceeded to imitate the manifestations
with a remarkable degree of accuracy. “The ‘brothers’ were tied
hand and foot, placed in a cabinet, and immediately began their
manifestations. Weird noises were heard, hands became visible through
the opening in the cabinet, musical instruments were seen floating
in the air, and the trumpet was several times thrown out. When the
doors were opened, the brothers were shown to be securely tied. They
reproduced every effect of the performances accompanied by appropriate
remarks and delightful witticisms from Irving.”

At the close of the seance, the performers received a vote of thanks,
the audience cheering Irving repeatedly. The Manchester papers were
filled for several days with accounts and letters concerning the Irving
seance, and in response to many urgent requests it was repeated a
week later in the Free Trade Hall, but the net result of the exposure
to Irving was the loss of his engagement at the Theatre Royal as he
refused to capitalize its success by giving nightly performances at the

The extent to which people allowed themselves to be deluded by the
Davenport exhibitions is evident from the following passage taken
from D. C. Donovan’s “Evidences of Spiritualism.” As a voluntary
investigation committee of one he had been allowed to sit in the
cabinet with the Brothers while the manifestations were in progress. In
his account of his experiences he says:

“Whilst I was inside, several arms were thrust out at the openings and
distinctly seen by persons outside. Now it is certain that these were
not the arms of the Brothers, because they could not have reached the
openings without rising from their seats, and had they done this, I
should have detected it in an instant; moreover, if their hands had
been free, they could not have played six instruments at once and still
have hands left with which to touch my face and hands and pull my
hair. Some of my friends endeavor to persuade me that the Davenports
did move, but that being in the dark I did not notice it. Darkness,
however, although highly unfavorable to seeing, is not at all so to
feeling, and I had my hands on their shoulders, where the slightest
muscular moving would have been detected.”

In view of what Ira Davenport told me about their manipulations I
cannot read the above account without feeling sorry for Mr. Donovan,
who, if his belief was genuine, had reached the highest point of

Because of the particular qualifications and aptitude of magicians to
detect fraud it is not surprising that Spiritualistic publications
seize eagerly any word coming from them favorable to the cause of
Spiritualism. With the comment, “it is well worth preserving and
placing beside that of Belachini, the German conjuror, as an answer
to those of our opponents, who, ignorant of legerdemain, declare our
phenomena to be of that character,” “The Spiritualist” of September 9,
1881, quoted from the Paris “_Revue Spirits_” the following statement
of E. Jacobs, a French prestidigitator:

    “Relating to phenomena which occurred in Paris in 1865, through
    the Brothers Davenport, spite of the assertions, more or less
    trustworthy, of the French and English journalists, and spite
    of the foolish jealousies of ignorant conjurors, I feel it my
    duty to show up the bad faith of one party, and chicanery of
    the other.... All that has been said or done adverse to these
    American mediums is absolutely untrustworthy. If we should
    judge rightly of a thing we must understand it, and neither
    the journalists nor the conjurors possess the most elementary
    knowledge of the science that governs these phenomena. As a
    Prestidigitator of repute and a sincere Spiritualist, I affirm
    that the mediumistic facts demonstrated by the two Brothers
    were absolutely true, and belong to the Spiritualistic order
    of things in every respect.... Messrs. Henri Robin and Robert
    Houdin, when attempting to imitate these said feats, never
    presented to the public anything beyond an infantine and almost
    grotesque parody of the said phenomena, and it would be an
    ignorant and obstinate person who could regard the question
    seriously as set forth by these gentlemen. If, as I have reason
    to hope, the psychical studies to which I am applying myself at
    this time, succeed, I shall be able to establish clearly (and
    that by public demonstration) the immense line of demarcation
    which separates mediumistic phenomena from conjuring proper,
    and then equivocation will be no longer possible, and persons
    will yield to evidence, or deny through predetermination.

                                        (Signed)  “E. Jacobs.[32]

  “Experimenter and President of Conference to the Psychological
    Studies at Paris.”

Dion Boucicault, an Irish Dramatist and actor of prominence in
America and equally so in Europe, entertained the Davenports at his
home in London (1865) where he felt assured that the room could not
contribute to fraudulent results. Twenty-three friends, men of rank
and some prominence, among them clergymen and medical doctors, were
in attendance. He did not report if any were believers, but it is
inferred from his writing that none were. As in other cases, the utmost
precaution was taken to render conditions most acceptable to the
investigators, nevertheless, the usual manifestations took place and
Mr. Boucicault wrote lengthy reports as to details, and as a conclusion
to his report he wrote:

“At the termination of the seance a general conversation took place on
the subject of what we had heard and witnessed. Lord Bury suggested
that the general opinion seemed to be that we should assure the
Brothers Davenport and Mr. W. Fay, that after a very stringent trial
and strict scrutiny of their proceedings, the gentlemen present
could arrive at no other conclusion than that there was no trace of
trickery in any form, and certainly there were neither confederates
nor machinery and that all those who had witnessed the results would
freely state in society in which they moved, that, so far as their
investigations enabled them to form an opinion, the phenomena which
had taken place in their presence were not the product of legerdemain.
This suggestion was promptly acceded to by all present.

“Some persons think that the requirement of darkness seems to
infer trickery. Is not a dark chamber essential in the process of
photography? And what would we reply to him who would say, ‘I believe
photography to be a humbug--do it all in the light, and we will
believe otherwise’? It is true that we know why darkness is necessary
to the production of the sun-pictures; and if scientific men will
subject these phenomena to analysis, we shall find out why darkness is
essential to such manifestations. It is a subject which scientific men
are not justified in treating with the neglect of contempt.--I am, etc.,

                                                  “Dion Boucicault.”

Richard Francis Burton, eminent English traveller, writer, and
translator of _The Arabian Nights_, wrote to Dr. Ferguson, Davenport
Brothers’ lecturer and manager:

    “I have spent a great part of my life in oriental lands, and
    have seen there many magicians.... I have read and listened to
    every explanation of the Davenport ‘tricks’ hitherto placed
    before the English public, and, believe me, if anything would
    make me take that tremendous jump ‘from matter to spirit,’ it
    is the utter and complete unreason of the reasons by which the
    ‘manifestations’ are explained.”

Nor was it in England alone that able men were completely fooled by
the Davenports’ performance. Frenchmen as well, after seeing the
exhibition, hastened to put their favorable opinions in writing.
Hamilton, a well-known expert in the art of legerdemain, and
son-in-law of Robert Houdin, the famous conjuror, wrote:

    “Messrs. Davenport,--Yesterday I had the pleasure of being
    present at the seance you gave, and I came away from it
    convinced that jealousy alone was the cause of the outcry
    against you. The phenomena produced surpassed my expectations,
    and your experiments were full of interest for me. I consider
    it my duty to add that those phenomena are inexplicable, and
    the more so by such persons as have thought themselves able to
    guess your supposed secret, and who are, in fact, far indeed
    from discovering the truth.


M. Rhys, a manufacturer of conjuring implements and himself an inventor
of tricks, wrote the Davenports:

“... I have returned from one of your seances quite astonished. As a
person who has devoted many years to the manufacture of instruments
for legerdemain performances, my statement made with due regard to
fidelity, and guided by the knowledge long experience has given me,
will, I trust, be of some value to you.... I was admitted to examine
your cabinet and instruments ... with the greatest care but failed
to find anything that could justify legitimate suspicions. From that
moment I felt that the insinuations cast about you were false and

These are but a few of innumerable instances where men of culture,
knowledge and experience, were deluded by the performance of the
Davenport Brothers, just as men are to-day with my presentations, and
when the reader takes into consideration the confession of Ira Erastus
Davenport[33] to me in 1909, and the fact that he taught me his full
method of manipulating seances, he can then form some conception of the
extent to which the most intelligent minds can be led astray by what
seem to them phenomena, but to me, mere problems susceptible of lucid



Following the first seances of the “Fox Sisters,” in 1848, mediums
sprang up all over the country like mushrooms but of this multitude
there have not been more than a dozen whose work, in spite of repeated
exposure, is still pointed to as proof of Spiritualism, and whose names
have found a permanent place in connection with its development and
history. Of these, one of the most conspicuous and lauded of his type
and generation was Daniel Dunglas Home. He was the forerunner of the
mediums whose forte is fleecing by presuming upon the credulity of the
subject. A new and fertile field was opened and from that time to the
present day there have been numerous cases of mediums falling into the
clutches of the law as a direct result of using his methods, but Home
had characteristics which went far in many cases to keep him out of
trouble. Outwardly a lovable character with a magnetic personality and
a great fondness for children; suave, captivating to the last degree,
a good dresser fond of displaying jewelry; an appearance of ill-health
which aroused sympathy and with an assumption of piety and devotion
to established forms of religious worship, he made his way easily and
found favor with many who would have spurned him under other conditions
and this too, strange as it may seem, in spite of persistent _rumors_
of immorality in his private life.

Home helped to build up his reputation by not charging for his
mediumistic services. The claim that he did not accept fees for his
sittings may, or may not, be quite true, but the fact remains that the
spirits were good to him and provided for his temporal needs abundantly
and sumptuously, and he subsisted on the bounty of his Spiritualistic
friends who seemed to rival one another in entertaining him in their
homes for long periods and showering him with gifts, a practice which
began in America and was continued in England and on the Continent to
an extent which made a life of positive luxury possible.

It is strongly intimated that the gifts which Home received were in
many cases _suggested_ by the _Spirits_ he invoked and his spirit
guide seems to have always kept a sharp eye on his need for earthly
sustenance even to the point of satisfactorily bedecking his person
with jewelry. This was always _materialized_ for him when required, and
since he, personally, could not be held responsible for what wicked
spirits might do, and as they used good judgment in picking victims,
nothing was said about it and he escaped the prison fate of Ann O’Delia
Diss Debar.

His early life was spent in Connecticut but whether at the home of his
aunt in Waterford or with his mother in Norwich, twelve miles away,
is a question, but certain it is that at the death of his mother he
went to the aunt’s. This was when he was seventeen, two years after
the “Fox Sisters” had begun their career in New York State. How much
he had heard of them is uncertain, something no doubt, and it is not
strange that a youth of his characteristics might want to emulate them.
Then too his mother had the reputation of being possessed of so-called
“second-sight” and he may have inherited traits which helped to make
the life of a medium look attractive to him. At any rate, claiming the
assistance of his mother’s spirit, he tried out his mediumistic powers
at the homes of the neighbors with such success that before long he
announced to his aunt that he was going to set up as a _professional
Spiritualist_. The lady, a devout Trinitarian, was so shocked and
disturbed, he tells us, that “in her uncontrollable anger she seized
a chair and threw it at me.” But much as she disliked the idea of the
young man becoming a medium his performances soon attracted so much
attention that she was reconciled to his leaving her home in Norwich
to go to Willimantic, Connecticut, where he began his life-long custom
of living on the bounty of friends and dupes. His first feats were of
the simplest kind such as are in the repertoire of every itinerant
sideshow proprietor, but his success seems to have been instantaneous.
One reason for this was that while mediums as a class were a lazy lot
Home was an untiring worker as well as an unflinching egotist and his
personal qualities went far to disarm suspicion and inspire confidence
in the minds of his dupes.

Where he obtained his early education does not appear but the records
are full of indications of considerable intellectuality. He claimed to
have studied medicine and obtained a degree in New York but he never
practiced. In his later years he set up a studio in Italy[34] and gave
his attention to sculpture between seances and “sold busts at prices
quite out of proportion to their artistic merits.” He studied elocution
too and is said to have given many successful readings.[35] He also had
the credit of being quite a musician and playing several instruments,
which partially explains his accordion trick. With it all he was
considerable of a linguist, toward the last being able to speak most
of the modern tongues. He was the author of two pretentious books[36]
whose chief purpose seems to have been to establish the impression that
while all other mediums cheated at times _Home was strictly honest_ on
all occasions, and in proof it was said that he was never exposed and
never received a fee for his sittings. Nevertheless one charge of fraud
was proven against him in court.[37] It may or may not be true that
he was never completely exposed but many of his manifestations were
discovered to be fraudulent and every one of them can be duplicated by
modern conjurors under the same conditions. The principal reason why
he was never _completely_ exposed was that he gave no public sittings,
always appearing as the guest of the family where he was living and as
one writer expressed it, “one would no more think of criticising his
host’s guest than he would his host’s wine.”

On one occasion Robert Browning, the poet, attended one of Home’s
seances. He had become somewhat alarmed by his wife’s interest in
Spiritualism, and when a face was materialized and said to be that
of a son who had died in infancy, Browning seized the supposed
materialized head and discovered it to be _the bare foot of Mr. Home_.
Incidentally, Browning had never lost an infant son. The living son,
R. Barrett Browning, in a letter to the London _Times_, December 5,
1902, referring to this occurrence said, “Home was detected in a vulgar
fraud.” In the same letter he tells of the modification of his mother’s
belief after having been deceived by a “_trusted friend_” and his
closing words were: “The pain of the disillusion was great, but her
eyes were opened and she saw clearly.”

What might be called Home’s American apprenticeship began in 1850 and
in spite of his youth and inexperience he succeeded in convincing
many prominent persons of the genuineness of his phenomena, among
them being such men as Judge Edmonds,[38] William Cullen Bryant, and
Bishop Clarke of Rhode Island. In the spring of 1855 a committee of
admirers collected a sum of money sufficient to send him to England
and establish himself comfortably. He carried with him a letter of
introduction to a man of scientific tastes by the name of Cox who
was proprietor of Cox’s Hotel, in Jermyn Street, and through whose
influence he was able to arrange sittings with Lord Brougham, Sir David
Brewster, Robert Owen, T. A. Trollope, Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, and others
equally prominent.

After only a few months’ stay in England Home went to Italy, ostensibly
for his health, and for the next four years he lived on the Continent,
travelling from place to place, living in luxury, being almost
continually entertained in the homes of “friends,” which in almost
every case were people of rank and wealth. He seems to have had little
difficulty in meeting royalty and nobility on terms of intimacy even
numbering among his patrons the Emperor and Empress of France as
well as the Czar of Russia. From this clientele he received many and
valuable gifts. At the Russian Court, with its leaning toward the
occult, he was especially welcomed and lived for weeks at a time in
the palace of the Czar, like the similar careers of Washington Irving
Bishop, Mons. Phillipi, and Rasputin. During his stay in Russia he
met a beautiful young lady of rank and with the approval of the Czar
married her.[39]

Home at this time had already begun to show that fondness for precious
stones which finally became so pronounced that a few years later an
English writer in describing him said:

“But the salient feature of the man after all was his jewels. On the
third finger of the left hand he wore an immense solitaire, which
flashed imperial splendors with every movement; above that a sapphire
of enormous size; on the other hand was a large yellow diamond and a
superb ruby set in brilliants.”

But these were not all for the writer adds a list of others in
Home’s possession which would easily arouse the envy of any
multi-millionaire’s wife. In view of this fondness for jewels an
incident which occurred just prior to Home’s leaving the Russian Court
is interesting. The story was told me by Stuart Cumberland. I have
heard him repeat it to others and he also tells it in his book, “That
Other World,” from which I quote.

“Whilst in Petrograd--so at least, a famous diplomat assured me when I
was there--Home did a feat of dematerialization before the Court which,
had it not been for the favor in which he was held in high places,
might have curtailed his liberty for a period.

“He had dematerialized a splendid row of emeralds lent the “dear
spirits” for the purpose of the test; but up to the time of his
departure from the seance, the emeralds, for some occult reason, had
declined to materialize and be given back to the confiding owner.
They were, of course, in the spirit land engaging the attention of
the spooks, who seemed to have a pretty taste for valuable jewels.
But the chief of police had not that faith in spiritual probity
generally accepted at the Court, and before leaving the palace, Home
was searched, and--so the story came to me--the dematerialized emeralds
were found materializing in his coat-tail pocket. They had been placed
there by an evil spirit, of course, but the chief of police impressed
upon the medium that the climate of the Russian Capital might not be
good for his health--that an early departure would probably benefit
it. Home took the hint and his early departure. To his dying day, I
think he regretted the interference of the evil spirit (or the police).
It would have been so much more satisfactory for the jewels to have
remained dematerialized in the spirit land, to be materialized at will
with no interfering police around, for they, the jewels, were of great
earthly value.”


The year 1859 found Home back in England and marked the commencement
of what proved to be the period of his greatest success. It was but a
few years later that he attempted his most noted financial venture.
He had become established in Sloane Street, London, as Secretary of
what was called “The Spiritual Athenæum.” One day, late in 1866,
there came to him a widow by the name of Jane Lyon who was anxious to
join his society. She was seventy-five years old and besides being
wealthy in her own right had been left ample means by her husband.
Previous to calling on Home she had read his book, believed it, and
in addition been having a series of unusual dreams. The medium had
little difficulty in finding a way to make it possible for her to
join the Athenæum, and she told how later at this first meeting her
husband’s spirit “had communicated with her through Home, and knotted
her handkerchief.” Just all that the spirit of her husband said to her
at this interview does not appear but it was enough to persuade her
to give him twenty-four thousand pounds. The spirits became very much
interested in Mrs. Lyon’s affairs and in November, at their direction,
Home burned her will and before long she gave him another six thousand

The attachment between the widow of seventy-five and the medium of
thirty-three grew apace and soon the spirit of her husband suggested
that she adopt Home as her son “for he would be such a comfort to her.”
The suggestion was immediately acted upon and the medium began to call
himself Daniel Home Lyon. Nor was the spirit forgetful of the needs
of a son, suggesting that an allowance of seven hundred pounds a year
would be about right. In January (1867) Mrs. Lyon assigned a mortgage
of thirty thousand pounds to Home, only reserving the interest as an
annuity for herself. Not until a month later did she become worried and
consult a lawyer, who assured her that she had been imposed upon, but
she was not convinced until she had questioned the spirits through a
girl of twelve, the daughter of a flower medium by the name of Murray.
As reported by this girl even the spirits seemed to think that Mrs.
Lyon had been fleeced out of sixty thousand pounds and she accordingly
demanded its return by Home. He ignored the demand but offered to
return the mortgage if she would give him undisputed possession of the
first thirty thousand pounds and allow him to drop the name of Lyon.
She would not agree to this. Home was arrested and a suit for recovery
begun. The litigation was long, the case finally ending in May, 1868,
with a judgment in favor of Mrs. Lyon; the Court holding that as the
transfer of money and deed had been accomplished by _fraud_ it was
therefore void. In his closing remarks the Vice Chancellor referred
to Mrs. Lyon as an old lady with a mind “_saturated with delusion_”
and characterized Spiritualism as being, according to the evidence, a
“system of mischievous nonsense well calculated to delude the vain, the
weak, the foolish, and the superstitious.”[40]

Home continued his mediumship, notwithstanding, and between 1870 and
1872 he held several seances with Sir William Crookes,[41] who was so
impressed that he credited him with being “one of the most lovable
of men--whose perfect genuineness was above suspicion,” an opinion
strikingly in contrast with the verdict in the case of Mrs. Lyon, but
which shows how thoroughly and easily the followers of Spiritualism are
beguiled and misled. _No_ medium is _ever_ open to suspicion by the
faithful and Sir William Crookes’ statement encourages the belief that
even scientists are not always immune from the influence of _personal
magnetism_. He is also quoted as saying:

“As to the theory of fraud, it is obvious that this theory can account
for a very small portion of the facts observed. I am willing to admit
that some so-called mediums of whom the public have heard much, are
arrant impostors, who have taken advantage of the public demand for
Spiritualistic excitement, to fill their purses with easily earned
guineas; _while others who have no pecuniary motive for imposture are
tempted to cheat, it would seem, solely by a desire for notoriety_.”

So it will be seen that even Professor Crookes, while defending the
so-called genuine medium, in the same breath admits that there are
fraudulent practitioners.


Home gained wide notoriety for unusual phenomena by his reputed
levitation acts, wherein he would slide from the chair on which he was
sitting to a horizontal position, then ask to have the chair removed as
it was not supporting him, and would “float” under a table and back,
but his masterpiece, the incident oftenest referred to, was sailing out
of a window feet first, and sailing into another, seven feet and four
inches distant, landing feet first in an adjacent room, where he “sat
down.” Lord Adare, an observer, expressed surprise that he could have
been carried through an aperture so narrow as eighteen inches whereupon
“Home, still entranced said, ‘I will show you,’ _and then with his back
to the window he leaned over and was shot out of the aperture head
first, with the body rigid, and then returned quite quietly_.”[42][43]

This is the way the story has been recounted again and again by
Spiritualist writers and speakers and to this day is told by Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle with as much seriousness as if he had been an eyewitness of
the occurrence in the full glare of a noon-day sun.

“When D.D. made that ‘home-run’” around the outside of his house he
seems to have been seeking an altitude rather than a speed record, as
the three reliable (?) witnesses agree that the windows through which
he floated were in the third story and either sixty or eighty feet from
the ground. This would make the height of each story from twenty to
twenty-seven feet, but _tall stories_ appear to have been a specialty
with these remarkably observant gentlemen.

In 1920 I made plans for reproducing this window feat under the same
conditions as Home and the late Stuart Cumberland openly challenged
Spiritualists that I was ready to submit to such a test but no response
was received before I left Europe. Consequently I desire to go on
record as being able to perform the same phenomena (?) provided I am
given the same conditions and scope which Home was. I believe that
those who witnessed the feat were sincere in giving credence to it but
that it was an illusion and they were deceived by Home, for the mind
of the average person accepts what it sees and is not willing to apply
the laws of physics, no matter how much or how glaringly the act defies
the fundamental principles upon which our very existence depends.

The years between 1859 and 1872 were those of Home’s greatest success.
Toward the end of this period, however, his popularity waned and having
for a second time married a lady belonging to the Russian nobility,
he gave up the practice of his profession, broke with nearly all
his former friends and returned to the Continent where he devoted
much of his time to writing. He died in 1886 and is buried at St.

His active career, his various escapades, and the direct cause of his
death[44] all indicate that he lived the life of a hypocrite of the
deepest dye. How strange that these inspired agents of “Summerland,”
these human deliverers of messages, these stepping stones to the
Beyond, are, for the greater part, moral perverts whose favorite
defence is the claim that they are forced to do such deeds by the evil
spirits which take possession of them.



Eusapia Palladino, an Italian, has to her credit the successful
deception of more philosophic and scientific men than any other
known medium, being regarded by some as the most famous of them all,
notwithstanding the fact that she seems to have made no pretence of
producing the class of miracles claimed by D. D. Home and many others.
Materialization was rarely resorted to by her and there is very little
variety in her program from 1892 up to the time of her death in 1918,
evidently being content to astonish investigating scientists with the
levitation and gyrating of inanimate things.[45]

Palladino was born in the Neapolitan district of poor peasants who
died when she was a mere child. Naturally bright, even shrewd, her
perceptive instinct seems to have developed early in life and continued
throughout her career though she had no education and to the end was
scarcely able to read or write.

Her first contact with the mysterious arts appears to have been when
she was a mere child of thirteen (1867) in the service of an acrobat or
_conjuror_[46] from whom she must have acquired some degree of skill
and knowledge of the uncanny which she may have coupled up with the
marvellous success achieved by Home, and her quick wit may have opened
visions of a change from poverty to that affluence which she saw was
the reward of the professional phenomena producer, for she began her
Spiritualistic work just following his successful operations in Italy
which served to spread Spiritualism in spite of Papal opposition. Her
part must have been learned well and her plans carefully laid before
she made her debut as a full fledged medium because she succeeded from
the start in baffling brainy men of science, and while as the wife of a
small shop-keeper she was very poor, she became wealthy within twenty
years after taking up mediumistic work.

She did not attract the attention of the public until about 1880 when
Professor Chiaia, who had been giving her a lot of attention without
detecting her methods, challenged Professor Lombroso, at that time
the most distinguished scientific man in Italy, to investigate her.
Professor Lombroso did, but failed to detect any fraudulent work though
his decision was delayed for so long a time that when it was finally
given it was claimed that his mentality had weakened considerably.[47]

In 1892 Palladino had begun to attract the attention of scientific men
in different Italian cities and had also been brought to the notice of
some of the English Spiritualists but it was not until 1894 that she
went to France. This trip was brought about through the influence of
Professor Richet, and Sir Oliver Lodge, Professor Sidgwick, and Mr.
Myers took part in the proceedings. On the return of Lodge and Myers to
England they aroused interest in Palladino by reporting her phenomena
to be genuine.

The first exposure of Palladino was made by Dr. Richard Hodgson in
1895. A committee from the English Society for Psychical Research,
consisting of Hereward Carrington, Hon. Everard Feilding, and Wortly
W. Baggally, which had held a series of test seances with Palladino in
Italy, brought her to England for a fresh try-out and another series of
sittings was held. Very early in the series suspicious movements on the
part of the medium were observed. Later Dr. Hodgson joined the circle
and was able to show conclusively that by clever manipulation--sheer
trickery--she was getting one hand free and with it making the
movements observed.

Her method[48] was to begin by allowing one hand to be firmly held by
the sitter at her side (say on the left) and let the fingers of her
other hand (right) rest on that of the sitter on her right. In the
course of some rapid spasmodic movements she would bring the sitters’
hands so close together that one of her own could do duty for two,
being held by one sitter while its fingers rested on the hand of the
other sitter,[49] leaving her (Palladino’s) right hand free to produce
the desired “phenomena” after which it was restored to its original
position. Other devices equally dishonest were observed or inferred.

All of these men were experienced seance observers[50] but the report
of their conclusions shows how easily such experts were deceived by
the very tricks which were later proved fraudulent by the New York
branch of The Society for Psychical Research. Mr. Feilding’s reports
were the least positive of the three and show that when the best
phenomena were observed the control was not complete and that the
stenographic notes were deficient, and when read over the day following
the sitting they seemed weak in comparison with a recollection of the
manifestations. That the final reports were based largely on these
recollections is indicated by Mr. Feilding’s statement that:

“We were forced from our proposed colorless attitude to one of almost
proselyting affirmation.”

When Palladino came to America in 1908 she was beginning to be world
famous and her reputation was established; she was a shrewd woman with
a large experience in the art of misdirection, and with a convenient
subterfuge of unaccommodating Spirit guides whenever her own resources
were exhausted because of some over-zealous observer. For twenty
years or more she had avoided detection because she had fixed the
conditions under which tests were made and consequently as scientific
investigations they were simply farces. But in New York conditions were
introduced which she did not approve for the simple reason that she did
not know that they existed. Another difference was that in New York
a number of rehearsals were held and each investigator was assigned
to a special part of the work, thus guarding against the old trick
of drawing the attention away from the place where a manifestation
suddenly developed. The result was Palladino’s downfall.

On her arrival in New York a group of Columbia professors became
interested in Palladino and arranged for a series of ten test seances
at one hundred and twenty-five dollars a sitting. Eight of the ten
seances had been held and though a majority of the professors were
satisfied that she was cheating they were unable to prove it. Although
the seances were being conducted secretly by the scientists one of
them, Professor Dickinson S. Miller, discussed Palladino’s best trick,
table levitation, with a friend of mine, Mr. W. S. Davis, himself
an ex-medium whose seances were always given under test conditions.
Davis not only explained to the Professor the probable method used
by Palladino but demonstrated it as well with the result that the
Professor declared that a full exposure of Palladino should be made
even if it cost ten thousand dollars and invited Davis to aid at
the next seance candidly admitting that he and his associates were
incapable of proper investigation.

Davis replied that scientists were not the kind of men he could work
with but if he would let him bring along a couple of “Flim-flam” men he
would help. Professor Miller consented to this arrangement provided the
men were palmed off as college professors as otherwise they would not
be admitted. Davis then sent for John W. Sargent, a past-president of
the Society of American Magicians, and for years my private secretary.
He also sent for another magician, James L. Kellogg. Both agreed with
Davis that his theory of Palladino’s method was correct. Professor
Miller then suggested, that in order to make the discovery complete and
to corroborate any and all observations, two other persons should be
selected to watch the feet of the medium. Davis accordingly selected
Joseph F. Rinn, another member of the magicians society, who had
assisted in various exposures of pseudo-mediums and Professor Miller
named Warner C. Pyne, a student at Columbia. It was agreed that these
two should be clad in black even to a head covering and smuggled into
the room under cover of darkness after the seance had convened and
were to sprawl under the chairs and table in order that their heads
might be near enough Palladino’s feet to detect any movement. I am
indebted to my friend Davis for the following inside story of the
sitting just as he gave it to me.

“After the arrival of Eusapia and Mr. Livingston and when both had
entered the seance room, Rinn and Pyne came downstairs and hid in
the hall where they waited for their signal. When we were introduced
and after the usual conversation, Eusapia said that she would begin.
Before she had time to pick her controllers, Professor Miller ushered
Kellogg and myself into the positions next to her. She took a seat at
the narrow end of the table and with her back close to the cabinet
curtains. (The cabinet was formed by placing curtains from the ceiling
to the floor, extending out from one corner of the room). Kellogg sat
at her right and I sat at her left. Eusapia sat close to the table
and her black dress touched the table legs. She placed her right foot
on the instep of Kellogg’s left foot and her left foot on my right
foot, which was her guarantee that her feet should play no part in
the production of the phenomena. We did not reduce the light at the
beginning of the seance.

“The rest of the party sitting around the table then placed their hands
on its upper surface and formed the well known chain. Eusapia stamped
Kellogg’s foot and mine and asked us if the control was satisfactory
which of course it was. Eusapia then drew her own hands away from ours
and soon light raps were heard. _They were such as are easily and
imperceptibly produced by sliding the finger tips upon the table top._

“We were next favored with responsive raps,--doubling up her hands she
beat the air with her fists in a jerky, spasmodic way when we heard
the light noises on the wood. The exhibition above board did not
occupy our entire attention. Every one in the party was interested in
the theory of using a foot as a lever to raise the table. As she beat
the air with her clenched fist, she correspondingly slid her feet away
until we felt the pressure on the toe end of our feet only, whereas
there had previously been pressure on the insteps. Kellogg and I both
suspected that she had succeeded in removing one foot and was making
the other do duty for two. From then on we commenced to get heavier
raps, as though she struck the table leg with her foot.

“In striking the table leg with the side of her shoe, thus producing
raps, Eusapia also got the exact position in which her foot should be
placed for levitation. When she rocked the table from side to side it
was only necessary to switch her toe an inch when the left leg of the
table would come down on it, then all she had to do was to elevate her
toe while the heel remained on the floor and either partial or complete
levitation followed.

“We looked pleased and Eusapia began to feel at home. With a little
rest, the rocking was resumed and she considered it safe to risk the
entire levitation. Holding Kellogg’s left hand up in the air with
her right she put my right hand, palm down, on the top of the table,
directly over the left table leg; then put her left hand over mine,
the tips of the fingers extending rather over my hand and touching
the table. No other hands were upon it. Then, after a few partial
levitations, the table went up into the air with every leg off the
floor. It was our first complete levitation. As beautiful as any on
record and _given under bright lights_.”

I asked Davis how he knew the levitation was fraudulent and he answered:

“(1) During the partial levitations I casually lifted my left foot,
passed it over the right foot in the direction of Eusapia and was
unable to touch her left leg in the place where it should have been.
(2) Her black dress touched the table leg and as she took her toe
suddenly out from under it, her dress moved accordingly. (3) By the
thud which the table made when it was deprived of its very material
perch. (4) By the fact that any juggler can perform the feat when the
‘_modus operandi_’ is fully understood, though perhaps not with the
same skill. (5) Every one present knew that the table was steadied at
the top by Eusapia’s hand, which rested upon mine, in turn bore down
over the table leg, held up presumably by Eusapia’s toe which formed
a perfect human clamp.[51](6) What Rinn and Pyne told us after the
seance. They said that from their position under the chairs they saw
Eusapia place her right foot upon Kellogg’s left and her left foot upon
my right, later they saw her tapping upon our feet with hers while she
made some changes in the position of her feet. They also saw her slide
her left foot away by a few hitches as her right was twisted around to
cover my right foot which had previously been under her left foot. They
distinctly saw Eusapia strike the table leg with the side of her foot
to produce the raps and they also saw her slide her toe under the table
leg and force the table up by toe leverage.”[52]

During his narration I asked Davis to tell me if this astute Italian
who had fooled the scientists of the world was not suspicious or did
not sense that she was being checked up in her movements.

“No,” he replied dryly, “once during the seance she asked every one to
stand up. Two of the ladies in their inexperience proceeded to obey the
command. We had two spies under our chairs and as we did not want her
to see them something had to be done immediately, so I pretended to
have severe cramps in my legs and while the interpreter told Eusapia
of it Sargent and Kellogg nudged the ladies to sit down and the medium
then resumed her seat.”

I will not bore the reader with a detailed account of the cabinet
phenomena at this seance under a subdued light but suffice to say that
Davis and Kellogg tricked her as before and were able to explain every
manifestation. The whole Miller seance was carried out as planned so
carefully that Palladino on the way to her hotel afterwards told the
Columbia student who had acted as interpreter[53] for her that she was
well pleased with the evening and that the seance had been one of the
most successful of the series.[54]

I quote by permission from a letter written me by Mr. Davis under date
of June 22, 1923:

“Rupert Hughes, in an attack upon Spiritism some time ago, said
that favorable reports on Palladino constituted a vast literature,
and he was right. The public libraries both in this country and
Europe contain many books in which it is claimed that it has been
‘_scientifically_ demonstrated’ that Eusapia possesses some occult

“Generations for centuries will probably be influenced by these books.
They are only calculated to create superstition and ignorance and it
is a shame that they are permitted to circulate. Eusapia was one of
the world’s greatest mountebanks. Her dupes were our foremost men of
learning--they were not of the rabble. She was the greatest mountebank
produced by modern Spiritism, and she duped more scientists than any
other medium. In that respect D. D. Home does not compare with her. The
_important lesson in the case_ is that so-called ‘scientific’ testimony
is just about worthless. That is an important educational fact and a
valuable lesson to the general public.”

Mr. Davis is quite right in his view of the seriousness of the possible
danger and damage to the reading public from the effects of the grossly
misapplied energy of the prominent scientists who have so unqualifiedly
endorsed Eusapia Palladino as a genuine miracle worker, and the hosts
of Spiritualistic enthusiasts who have repeated their published
statements. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle unqualifiedly lauds Home and
Palladino as patron saints of his psychic religion (?). He accepts as
proof the fact that these learned scientists met their Waterloo in an
attempt to fathom the simple tricks of impostors, and like all other
Spiritualists refuses to accept the positive proof of the deception
secured by men schooled in the science of magic which at times is
as seemingly unexplainable as the more profound subjects of natural

The reader should bear in mind that Mr. Davis’ _sincerity_ is just as
great as is Sir Arthur’s. _Sincerity_ is Sir Arthur’s strong magnet
and the reader should attach as much importance to _sincerity_ on
the part of an opponent. We must also take into consideration the
fact that Mr. Davis was at one time a _medium_ himself and he has had
much opportunity for observing the qualifications of scientists as
occult investigators. We must notice too the methods of conducting
the seances in which such diverse results were obtained. Those held
with only scientists as observers were under the full control of the
medium and all her conditions were conformed to, but in New York it
was practically a case of fighting fire with fire. It is proverbial
that “it takes a rogue to catch a rogue”--just so a trickster is more
capable of setting traps to detect trickery than the grave scientist
in his endeavor to solve the problem by mathematics or logic. In the
successful instance the plan of operation had been carefully worked out
in every detail, each participant was assigned a specific work to do
and did it. A number of rehearsals were held so that each person was
familiar with their part. All the conditions so strenuously adhered to
in previous seances, were safeguarded and the result was a successful


When Carrington brought Palladino to this country he announced that he
did so in the interest of “science.” Publicity was not to be ignored
though and consequently the first seance was given before newspaper
men. William A. Brady (the theatrical man) occupied the seat of honor
which made it look as though Carrington hoped for some theatrical
business as a side issue to the seances with scientists at a hundred
and twenty-five dollars a sitting. It is also known that Carrington
made a contract with a popular magazine which gave it an exclusive
right to publish reports of the seances and naturally Carrington was
to have received a liberal fee. But Mr. Davis in 1909 furnished the
_New York Times_ with two articles making a sensational attack on
Palladino whereupon the magazine people cancelled their contract with
Carrington on the ground that Davis had put a “frost” on their plans.
As a result Carrington threatened the _Times_ with a suit for a hundred
thousand dollars damage. The threat was dropped after Palladino’s
complete exposure and her refusal to go to the Times Building and win
the two thousand dollar prize offered by Rinn. In all the seances
conducted by Carrington the program was the same and the phenomena
of precisely the same character as in the one which resulted in
Palladino’s complete exposure. The value of Mr. Carrington’s opinion
as evidence may be judged from excerpts from an article in _McClure’s
Magazine_ for October, 1909. In this article he answers his own
question “Does Eusapia Deceive Her Investigators?” by saying:

“Well do I know the condition of mind induced by one or two seances
with Eusapia. All one’s previous experience is refuted, and the mind
fails to grasp the facts or to accept them as real. It is incapable of
absorbing them. It requires several seances before one is convinced of
the reality of the phenomena, and of the fact that one’s observation
is not mistaken. Personally, I had to witness six seances before I was
irrevocably and finally convinced of the reality of the fact. Before
that, although I was quite unable to explain what I saw by any theory
of fraud or trickery, and although I was quite certain the facts were
not due to hallucination, still I could not believe them. I felt that
there must be a loophole somewhere; and I know that my colleagues
felt exactly as I did. But at the sixth seance when I was controlling
the medium myself, in such a manner that I was quite sure as to the
whereabouts of her whole body, and when it was, moreover, light enough
to see the whole outline of her body clearly,--when, in spite of this,
phenomena continued to take place all around us in the most bewildering
manner and under the most perfect test conditions, I felt that there
was no more to be said; certainty had been achieved; and from the sixth
seance onward, and forever after, I shall remain as certain that these
phenomena are facts, and form a part--however sporadic--of nature, as I
am that I write this article.”

The foregoing shows how vacillating the mind of Mr. Carrington was at
the time he was conducting the Palladino seances, and when after a
personal contest with the medium he stated his conviction he should
have known he was talking the impossible; that no one man could control
Palladino beyond the possibility of fraud and at the same time detect
her false moves. In the same article he writes:

“I may remark just here that this medium has been caught in trickery
from time to time, and will almost invariably resort to it unless
she is prevented from doing so by the rigidity of the control (that
is, the degree of certainty obtained in holding her hands and feet).
The reason for this is that Eusapia, knowing that the production of
genuine phenomena will exhaust her nervous forces, resorts to this
simpler method, if her sitters are sufficiently credulous to allow
it, in order to save herself from the painful after effects of a
genuine seance. Nearly every investigator has at one time or another
discovered this fraud, which is petty, and more or less obvious to any
careful investigator, and consists in the substitution of one hand for
two, and in the production of phenomena with the remaining free hand.
If, however, sufficient precautions are taken, it is a comparatively
easy matter to frustrate her attempts at fraud; and when this is done
so-called genuine phenomena are produced. Many of the phenomena are
so incredible that by far the simplest explanation is that fraud has
been operative in their production; but I can say positively (and I
believe the records will show this) that fraud was quite impossible
throughout our seances, not only because of the nature of our control
of the medium, which was rigidly exacting, but because of the abundance
of light. Any theory based upon the supposition that confederates were
employed is absolutely discounted: first, because the seances were held
in our own locked rooms in the hotel; and secondly, because throughout
the seances it was light enough for us to see the whole room and its
occupants. It is hardly necessary to add that we examined the cabinet,
the table, instruments, and all articles of furniture, both before and
after each seance.”

This last seems just as a manager might be expected to talk of the
merit of his own show. A salesman should not decry his wares.

There is no question but what Palladino was given to fraud.[55] In
personal conversations with Hon. Everard Feilding, W. W. Baggally, E.
J. Dingwall and Hereward Carrington, each stated positively that they
had caught her cheating and that they knew her to be a fraud. They
claimed that toward the end of her career she lost her occult power and
at such times as the Spirits failed her she would resort to trickery
rather than confess failure. They believed her a genuine medium because
of the things which she did under test conditions which they could not
explain, their knowledge of fraud being overpowered, apparently, by a
willingness to believe in the impossible simply because they were not
able to solve the problem.

If you go to a department store and ask for a well advertised bit of
merchandise and when you get home you find the clerk has substituted
“something just as good” you either report the clerk to the management
or else you do not patronize the store again; if you go to a tailor and
he sells you an “all-wool” suit and you find that most of the “wool”
grew on cotton plants you pass that store by when you are ready to
buy another suit; if you catch your best friend cheating at cards you
refuse to play with him again ever and a life-time friendship is broken
up. But Palladino cheated at Cambridge, she cheated in l’Aguélas, and
she cheated in New York and yet each time that she was caught cheating
the Spiritualists upheld her, excused her, and forgave her. Truly their
logic sometimes borders on the humorous.

F. W. H. Myers wrote in “Borderland” in 1896:

“These frauds were practiced in and out of the real, or alleged, trance
and were so skillfully executed that the poor woman must have practiced
them long and carefully.”

Palladino is summed up in these few lines.

My opinion is that Palladino in her crafty prime may have possessed the
agility and abundant skill in misdirection together with sufficient
energy and nerve to bamboozle[56] her scientific and otherwise astute
committeemen, but as time demanded its toll she probably lost her vim
and nerve and became unable to present her “performances” with the
success that attended her earlier demonstrations.

My old friend, John William Sargent, who died on September 24, 1920,
was one of the committee which finally dethroned Palladino, and I
believe it no more than just that the last word of this chapter should
be said by him.

“Eusapia Palladino is dead and I have little doubt that she departed
hence without forgiving me for the part I took in spoiling her business
in America by assisting in the exposure of her little bag of tricks.
It is an open question, however, whether the exposure of her trickery,
or in fact of any of the class of sensation mongers to which she
belonged, ever turned a soul from belief in Spiritism; some of the
leading newspapers, in commenting on her death, show that in spite of
the complete exposure of her methods, there still remains in the minds
of many intelligent people the conviction that she was far from an
impostor. I cannot understand how any reasonable person could see in
this woman anything more than a fairly clever charlatan, whose success
was due more to the credulity of her audiences than the skill of her
performances. What did all her exposures amount to? Those who believed
have continued to believe, and in spite of the old saw, ‘Truth is
mighty and must prevail,’ the name of Eusapia Palladino will be on the
lips of men long, long after her exposers are forgotten dust.”



The coming and going of Ann O’Delia Diss Debar are mysteries for there
is no record of her birth and no trace of her death, but the “in
between time” furnished material enough for an entire book rather than
a single chapter, and gave her sufficient opportunity to have it said
of her that she was “one of the most extraordinary fake mediums and
mystery swindlers the world has ever known.” Some even have classed
her among the ten most prominent and dangerous female criminals of the
world, and her repertoire is claimed to have run the full gamut from
petty confidence games to elaborately contrived schemes aimed at the
magnates of Wall Street. According to report she did not hesitate to
victimize the innocent and the mentally unsound and left behind her a
trail of sorrow, depleted pocket-books, and impaired morals that has
seldom been equaled. Like many master criminals she escaped punishment
for a time but in the end fell into the toils of the law and served
time both here and in England. The marvellous tact with which she
devoted her great powers to the purposes of self aggrandizement and
profit is without parallel, and for cunning knavery, Cagliostro, by
comparison, seems to have been an amateur. It is alleged that her
crimes ranged from the smallest to the largest with morals as low as
one can imagine in a human being while, worst of all, she flaunted this
viciousness openly, making no effort whatever to cloak her degeneracy.

Nevertheless her name stands among the half score or more in the front
ranks of the history of Spiritualism and with Daniel Dunglas Home
shares the palm for the successful manipulation of big schemes. It
was not unusual for her to make deals that ran into the hundreds of
thousands of dollars and though the two were early in the mediumistic
field, I believe that to this day they have had no peer in this
respect. Possibly all other mediums combined could not have aggregated
the amount of money obtained by these two.

Whether Home outbids Diss Debar for preëminence as to gain it is hard
to say but it is certain that he “could not hold a candle” to her
versatility. Both appear to have had the advantage of being scholastic,
and well versed in historic lore and the classics, which gave them
great prestige with cultured people, opening the doors to the social
life of the “upper-ten,” and bringing within their reach people of
wealth as well as scholars and scientists, all of whom were apparently
perfectly willing to be deceived, and to unwittingly aid in making the
careers of these two adventurers “howling successes” up to the time of
their undoing in the courts.

Unlike Home, who never in all the vicissitudes of his career denied
his personality, Diss Debar as frequently as she changed her base of
operations seems to have changed her name and her ancestry. Once in the
heyday of her career she gave a series of interviews claiming to be the
daughter of King Louis I of Bavaria and Lola Montez, a Spanish-Irish
dancer who had a spectacular and adventurous career which covered
Europe in its course, reached to the Russian Court and later America.
It is supposed that Diss Debar was the daughter of a political refugee
by the name of Salomen who settled in Kentucky and that she was born in
1849 although there is no documentary proof of it. According to the
story she was named Editha and as she grew up became known as a wayward
child bent on doing what she should not and perfectly callous to all
restraining influence of parental affection. “At times her waywardness
took such extraordinary turns that her parents thought she was not
entirely sane and sought the advice of a doctor, who said she was
really a sort of victim to an unholy passion, but that she would grow
out of her failing as she grew older,” a prophecy which never came true.

When Editha Salomen became of age she left home and for several years
her father lost all track of her. Later, to his great astonishment, he
discovered her settled in Baltimore, moving among the best of society,
and posing as a member of European aristocracy. As the “Countess
Landsfeldt and Baroness Rosenthal” of the peerage of Bavaria she
availed herself of all the privileges which members of nobility enjoyed
in the Republic, was courted by American youth and found American women
“only too delighted to be led by a Countess.”

Where the Kentucky girl with her peculiar temperament and
characteristics could possibly have secured the education and knowledge
which she displayed through all her exploits I am at a loss to
understand. She must have inherited a liberal share of shrewdness,
together with a fancy for reading ancient history, and at an early
age realized that although not handsome she possessed some charm of
personality which attracted attention and which enabled her to pose
successfully as a member of the nobility.

It is said that in this rôle Editha had no difficulty in raising funds.
It was easy to encourage a prosperous young man into a love trap and
make him believe she would soon marry him. “Then one day she would
find that she had to pay a large sum of money to meet a necessary
obligation, that her careless bankers in Bavaria had failed to remit a
few hundred thousand dollars, on account of which she most reluctantly
accepted temporary relief from the rich suitor. She took as much as
she dared and thereafter cut him.” In this way she managed to cheat
the youth of Baltimore out of about a quarter of a million dollars.
She gave herself up to luxury and extravagance; took freely to smoking
cigarettes impregnated with opium and was soon landed in Bellevue
Hospital suffering from “acute nervous exhaustion.”

One day, just as she was nearly cured, she sprang out of bed, stabbed
an attendant and attempted to kill her doctor, and several persons were
seriously wounded before she was secured. As a result she was sent to
the asylum for the insane on Ward’s Island, where she was detained for
a year, during which time she showed no traces of insanity and it was
concluded that her attempt at murder was premeditated; but as she had
been committed as insane with no evidence to controvert it the law was
powerless and she was released.

Her next venture was in the field of hypnotism, where she was an
adept, but now known as Mrs. Messant and a widow, for though a young
doctor, either through fear or fondness, had married her soon after her
discharge from Ward’s Island, he had survived the marriage less than a
year. As “one can always find fools if one really looks for them” she
had no difficulty in surrounding herself with dupes but as the widow
of an obscure doctor was not _persona grata_ in the circles of high
society where the highest paying fools are to be found she set to work
to find an entrée. Her search was not for long. Soon she discovered a
certain General Diss Debar; a man without money or “mind of his own”
but he filled her need, easily yielded to her cajoleries and presently
Editha Salomen, Countess Landsfeldt, Baroness Rosenthal, Messant became
Ann O’Delia Diss Debar. As the wife of a general, society smiled on her
again and she lived in comfort. The rich courted “hypnotism and general
humbug and the wily woman was equal to the requirement.” As time went
on, however, she began to squander the money that flowed into her
coffers. A couple of children were born to her. People began to tire of
hypnotism, her income waned, and it became necessary for her to set her
wits to work and cast her net for a fresh victim.

This proved to be Luther R. Marsh, a brilliant and wealthy lawyer of
New York City. Mr. Marsh was an ideal subject for the hypnotizer’s
attention. Though a learned lawyer he was not free from superstition
and his wife had died but a short time before he was discovered by Diss
Debar. At an early opportunity she “received” messages from his spirit
wife which the distinguished member of the bar accepted as genuine so
gratefully and without question that the woman saw at once that she had
opened up a new field with more and greater possibilities than she had
ever worked before; she realized that she had gifts which fitted her to
be a first class Spiritualistic medium. Nor was her judgment in error.
The credulous lawyer proved an exceedingly easy mark. Very quickly she
won his full confidence and it was not long before he invited her to
share his hospitality at 166 Madison Avenue. There was no delay in her
acceptance. With the owners’ full consent the home was transformed into
a Spiritualistic Temple in which Ann O’Delia Diss Debar was the high
priestess. Soon it was evident that there were spirits in profusion
and the new medium was able to produce any type of phenomena desired,
even to spirit painting. The venture was a profound success and a
flourishing business was developed with an upper-ten clientele in which
Mr. Marsh became the chief and real victim.

Not only was Mr. Marsh mourning his wife but he had also lost a little
daughter but a short time before and so when “Eva’s” supposed spirit
suggested to him that he make over his property at 166 Madison Avenue
to Diss Debar the father was ready for the sacrifice.[57] The deeds
were drawn and the transfer made but the medium was prevented from
enjoying her booty by legal proceedings which vigilant relatives of
Marsh instituted based on his mental condition.

Both Ann O’Delia Diss Debar and her husband, General Diss Debar, were
arrested and held on bail for trial.[58] As not infrequently happens
in such cases the litigation was long drawn out and much astonishing
evidence produced.[59] When placed on the witness stand her first
testimony demonstrated her character. A man by the name of Salomen
had testified that he was her brother. She denied that he was and
declared that he was a vile wretch who had come to her to borrow money.
She admitted to an inspector afterwards that the man was her brother
but that he would not dare go on the stand against her for she knew
something about him that would blast him forever and would not hesitate
for a second to tell it if she needed to.

Another indication of her character is furnished by the story that in
choosing between two lawyers to represent her in court she not only
inquired into their legal ability, but desired to know about their age
and looks as well, finally deciding upon the younger and better looking.

She testified that all the trouble had been caused by Mr. Marsh giving
her his house and in answer to a question as to why she did not get
money from him instead of real estate she replied that she had tried
to but that he was very mean with his cash. The last time she had gone
to him for money he had refused it, offering her instead a deed of his
property in Newport. This she had refused fearing it would get her into
more trouble.

During the early part of the trial Diss Debar conceived the idea of
consulting the spirit world in regard to her own course of action and
soon after, on “the advice of Cicero and his colleagues in council of
ten” she returned the deeds of the Madison Avenue property to Mr. Marsh.

One of the surprises of the trial was the calling by the prosecuting
attorney of a professional illusionist, mesmerist, and conjuror, Carl
Hertz, as a witness to prove by duplication that the tricks practiced
on the unsuspecting Marsh by Diss Debar were simply applications
of the ordinary laws of physics. This he succeeded in doing to the
satisfaction of the court.

While Hertz was exhibiting “spirit message” reading on the stand Diss
Debar did everything in her power to embarrass him but without success
as he met every condition she suggested including some under which Diss
Debar herself would have failed to “manifest.” Mrs. Hertz had been
her husband’s assistant in reading the billets. Diss Debar proposed
through her lawyer that she be allowed to take her place. Hertz readily
consented. The Judge examined a fresh piece of paper and Hertz passed
it to Diss Debar who deliberately tore it in two pieces and handing one
of them back said to Hertz:

“I always mark mine; now let me see you do the trick with one of these

Hertz availed himself of the regular mediumistic subterfuge
“unfavorable conditions” explaining that it was only a trick and being
exhibited as such. To this Diss Debar retorted:

“I rest my honor upon its _all being done by Spiritual power_ when I do

At this the court ordered her from the stand refusing to allow
discussion along such lines. Later in the trial Hertz was recalled to
the stand by Diss Debar’s counsel and asked if he could produce the
trick with Mr. Marsh as an assistant. He replied that he “could and
would.” From a newspaper account[60] we learn that excitement in the
courtroom ran high while he proceeded with the trick. Diss Debar told
Marsh to “mark the tablet.”

The conditions were not favorable to the performance of a
sleight-of-hand trick. Mr. Marsh and Mr. Hertz were less than two feet
apart and people crowded around so close that the magician scarcely had
room to move, and yet he succeeded completely in deceiving Mr. Marsh.
When Hertz handed the tablet to Mr. Marsh he calmly said:

“If you wish to tear a corner off the tablet so as to identify it, I
have no objections.”

Mr. Marsh tore the corner off the tablet, nevertheless he was
completely tricked, and he so admitted to the court.

Nothing could show more clearly the methods used by mediums than the
following account, written by Hertz himself, of the means which he used
in the demonstration described above. The letter was in response to one
of mine in which I asked him to let me know the method he used as I
thought it should be put in this record.

                                        8 Hyde Park Mansions,
                                        London, N. W.
                                        July 16, 1923.

    Dear Houdini:

    I am in receipt of yours, with reference to the manner in which
    I manipulated the paper to fool Mme. Diss Debar. I worked it
    as follows: When she was in the witness box, I showed the jury
    and Mrs. Diss Debar a half sheet of plain white note paper with
    nothing on it. I then told her to examine it and fold it four
    times (I had a duplicate piece with a communication written on
    it palmed in my hand), when she handed it back to me, I quickly
    made the changes, and giving her the piece with the writing on
    it I told her to hold it against my forehead. She then stopped
    me and said: “_one moment please_, whenever I do this trick, _I
    let them mark the paper_,” and suiting the action to the word,
    she took the paper, and without opening it again, she tore a
    corner off the blank piece, but, as it was already changed it
    made no difference.

    You will see, I took a big chance, but it came off. I had
    an idea she would do this, so I actually changed the papers
    before I should have done so in the ordinary way, and she
    was flabbergasted when she opened the paper and found a
    communication written upon it, and on the same piece of paper
    which she had marked.

    The writing pad trick which I did in the witness box with
    Luther R. Marsh, I did as follows:--

    The trick, if you remember, was to show a pad of about a
    hundred sheets of paper unwritten upon, and to wrap the pad up
    in a newspaper, and to allow Marsh to hold one end while she
    held the other. Then the sound of writing was heard as if some
    one was writing on the paper, and when the newspaper was opened
    every sheet in the pad was written upon.

    I had two pads alike, one I had concealed under my waist-coat,
    and the other I gave to Marsh to examine; as I proceeded to
    wrap the pad up, under cover of the newspaper, I changed them,
    quickly drawing the pad from my waist-coat and leaving the
    other one in its place.

    I then proceeded to wrap the pad up when Diss Debar shouted
    from her seat in the Court Room ‘Don’t let him fool you, mark
    it!’ but as it was already changed, it did not matter so I let
    them tear a corner off.

    I then let him hold one end, while I held the other, and amidst
    a great silence the sound of writing was heard, as if a pen
    was rapidly going over the paper, and I then told him to open
    the newspaper and look at the pad, when he found every sheet
    written upon.

    I then showed the Court how I produced the sound of writing, by
    having the nail of my forefinger split, and simply scratching
    the newspaper underneath while I held it.

    Kind regards to self and wife from both of us.

                                         Yours sincerely,
        (Signed)                                       CARL HERTZ

Regardless of Carl Hertz’s testimony and demonstration Mr. Marsh’s
belief in the genuineness of Spiritualistic phenomena was unshaken and
remained so until the time of his death. Not only the extent of this
belief and his mental condition, but his confidence in Diss Debar as
well, are revealed in the following excerpt from the _New York Times’s_
account of the trial.

“A short communication from St. Paul was read by Mr. Howe (the
Prosecuting Attorney) to the Court, and Mr. Marsh read a very long one
from St. Peter. It required fifteen minutes and a half to read this
communication, and Mr. Marsh said it had come in the tablet written in
two minutes. Judge Cross and Luther Colby were in his study when it
came. He knew that the tablet was blank before he and Mme. Diss Debar
held it together in their hands.

“Mr. Howe asked Mr. Marsh if he really believed the communication was
from St. Peter, the apostle, and Mr. Marsh replied that he knew it was.

“‘Then you still believe in it!’ exclaimed Mr. Howe.

“‘I do,’ was the firm reply, and the Spiritualistic element applauded
vigorously. Mme. Diss Debar and Mr. Marsh both seemed pleased with this
demonstration which the Court, however, stopped summarily.”

Twelve ballots were taken by the jury before an agreement was reached
due to the fact that one juror, evidently in sympathy with the accused,
obstinately held out for acquittal. His reasons were as little logical
as most Spiritualistic arguments and had no connection with the
evidence. In fact the other jurors said that when they tried to talk
evidence to him “he wouldn’t have it, but hung to one line of thought,
namely, that he believed Mrs. Diss Debar to be the daughter of Lola
Montez and that a woman born out of wedlock was just as much entitled
to consideration as one who was born in wedlock, and as Mrs. Ann
O’Delia Diss Debar claimed all the honors of illegitimacy, he was on
her side for keeps.”

[Illustration: ANN O’DELIA DISS DEBAR]

Finally after a long wrangle and with the prospect of being locked in
a jury room over Sunday, an arrangement was reached whereby a verdict
of guilty was to be brought in but with a recommendation for clemency.
This was done and Diss Debar and her husband were sent to Blackwell’s
Island for six months.[61]

When she was released she disappeared from America only to reappear
after a little in London, England, where under the names of Laura and
Theodore Jackson she and her husband soon found themselves in trouble
for starting an exceptionally immoral cult[62] which they called a
“Theocratic Unity.”[63] She was sentenced in December, 1901, to seven
years of penal servitude in Aylesbury Prison. Even here her persuasive
powers found a use for it is said that she gained favor because of the
marvellous influence which she had over the refractory element which
the officers in charge had difficulty in keeping in subjection. At any
rate she was released after serving five years, “having obtained the
maximum reduction of sentence for good behavior.”[64]

Out in the world again she ventured into vaudeville and afterwards
burlesque but in these rôles she was a complete failure. Later she
came back to America and was next heard of in Chicago as Vera Ava.
She succeeded in marrying a wealthy man there but before long was
in more difficulties in connection with the pursuit of spookery and
sentenced to the Joliet Penitentiary for two years.[65] Once more she
appeared--in New Orleans as the Baroness Rosenthal--then in 1909 this
creature, who for more than a quarter of a century had been swaying men
of prominence and women of society, dropped out of sight and for the
last fifteen years nothing has been known about her.[66]

In mothering this immoral woman, Spiritualism is guilty of the grossest
misconduct and proves conclusively that she does not protect her own
from the wiles and immorality of mediums even though they are found
guilty of base criminality by the courts. Were I permitted to go into
detail I could tell tales of Diss Debar that would shock even the worst
roué of the Montmartre. Suffice to say that her crimes were not so much
crimes of gain as they were insults to the decency and morality of the

Ann O’Delia Diss Debar’s reputation[67] was such that she will go
down in history as one of the great criminals. She was no credit to
Spiritualism; she was no credit to any people, she was no credit to any
country--she was one of these moral misfits which every once in awhile
seem to find their way into the world. Better far had she died at birth
than to have lived and spread the evil she did.



Slate writing was an especially fortunate “find” for mediums. Its
results were obtained in full light and the whole thing seemed so
simple and direct that apparently there was nothing to investigate and
comparatively speaking there were no blank seances. Such success led to
carelessness and exposures followed, so numerous and complete that it
is quite unnecessary to list them all here.[68] Every once in a while
though some medium still takes a chance when opportunity offers and
gives a test to especially gullible sitters, but to-day no medium with
any pretentions to “class” would think of anything so “common” as slate
writing in its old form. Spirit slates are now listed in the catalogues
of houses dealing in conjuring apparatus and the fraud mediums who
formerly made use of them are employing the safer and easier swindles
of automatic writing, trance or trumpet messages, and the “ouija board.”

The infinite grafting possibilities of the Spirit slates seem to have
been overlooked until adopted and put into usable form by Dr. Henry
Slade,[69] a man who had acquired an unenviable reputation in New
York City, but it is extremely doubtful if the present generation
would have known anything about Dr. Slade had the perpetuation of his
name been left to the quality of his mediumship, for he was only one
of a large number of conjuring fakirs who bamboozled the credulous of
his day. However, he was brought into the limelight on two notable
occasions: first by being exposed and criminally prosecuted in London;
and second when poor old Professor Zollner, a noted German astronomer
and physicist, “fell” for his simple conjuring and fell so hard that he
made Slade the hero of his great (?) work, “Transcendental Physics.”

Like D. D. Home, and many others, after making a reputation in America,
Slade jumped over to London, for England’s arms seem ever open for the
reception of mediums who have made good here and if a medium escapes
the toils of American investigators he has little to fear from willing
believers on the other side of the Atlantic, though as a matter of fact
several were sent to jail there. Slade reached England in July, 1876,
and began to hold sittings at once, and was soon “cleaning up” in fine
shape. The late John Nevil Maskelyne, the great English magician, told
me that:

“Crowds of people rushed to witness the phenomena (?) paying one guinea
each for a sitting lasting but a few minutes. You would think they were
giving gold guineas away. The ‘Doctor’ must have netted some hundreds
of pounds weekly which in those days was rated a high sum of money for
an individual ‘performer.’”

Then, just as things were going so nicely for Slade there came a sudden
crash, for which two men were responsible; Professor Ray Lankester (now
Sir Ray Lankester) and Dr. Horatio Donkin (now Sir Horatio Donkin).
These men applied certain effective methods of scrutiny to Slade’s
exhibitions which resulted in his arrest. The trial created a big
sensation, not only in Spiritual circles, but throughout the civilized
world, and the Bow Street Court was the most popular show in London for
several days; the “top-liner” being J. N. Maskelyne, the magician, who
performed all of Slade’s tricks in the witness box.

Slade was convicted and sentenced to three months at hard labor. An
appeal was taken and the decision quashed on account of a flaw in the
indictment. While Sir Lankester was procuring new summonses for Slade
and his manager, Simmons, they both skipped across the channel into
France, thus closing the doors of England against Slade for all time
as he never dared to set foot on her unfriendly shores again. He made
ready for a Paris performance but a friend of Sir Lankester’s sent
an account of the court proceedings to the Paris press so the French
people had the whole story before Slade was able to begin.

While touring Europe in 1920 I had the pleasure of meeting Sir Ray
Lankester and hearing from him an account of Dr. Slade’s undoing. Both
he and Donkin were physicians. They had been laying their plans to
expose two other mediums, Herne and Williams, but Slade’s unexpected
arrival in London changed these plans and instead they plotted the
seance which proved to be Slade’s downfall. Donkin was away from London
at the time but Sir Lankester wired him and while waiting for his
return attended one of Slade’s seances. He pretended to Slade that he
came to see if the Spirits would write a message on the slates if he
held them himself. Slade assured him that they would and arrangements
were made for a second sitting. Before Sir Lankester left Slade asked
him if he had been in communication with any departed relatives.

“No, but I have an Uncle John,” Sir Lankester replied.

Consequently at the second sitting the following message was received:

“I am glad to see you here again.--John.”

“But have you an Uncle John?” I asked.

“No, Houdini,” he replied smiling, “that is why everyone laughed in the
courtroom at the time of the trial. You see, Slade thought I was a firm
believer, and I allowed him to distract my attention. He said to me
‘You have a great deal of mediumistic power about you. I see them over
you behind your head.’”

As he said this Sir Lankester raised his head with seeming credulity
acting the part splendidly.

“What made you suspect Slade?” I asked him.

“At the first seance I noticed the tendons move on Slade’s wrist as he
held his hand outstretched under the table,” Sir Lankester replied,
“and while making a number of suspicious moves he scratched the slates
a number of times with his finger nail to simulate the noise made by a
slate pencil when writing on a slate.”

On the return of Sir Donkin it was arranged that he and Sir Lankester
should attend a seance together and that Sir Donkin was to watch
for the “suspicious move” and when he saw it signal Sir Lankester.
Everything worked as planned. On receiving the agreed signal from
Donkin, Lankester seized the slate containing the finished message
proving that a skillful exchange of slates had been made by Slade and
this was the _real evidence which caused the downfall of Henry Slade_
in England.

Blocked in Paris from working his tricks because of the publication
of an account of his exposure in England Slade seems to have gone to
Germany for it was during the next year, 1877, that he so successfully
deluded Professor Zollner. “Zollner” is one of the names on which
Spiritualistic enthusiasts bank most heavily for proof of their
claims. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to this day quotes Zollner as
indisputable authority. Nevertheless Zollner is discredited by Mr.
George S. Fullerton, Secretary of the Seybert Commission. While in
Germany Mr. Fullerton made a special business of investigating the
value of this Zollner endorsement, and at the time all of the men who
participated in the Slade investigation were alive with the exception
of Zollner himself. Mr. Fullerton in the summary of his report to the
Commission said:

“Thus it would appear that of the four eminent men whose names have
made famous the investigation, there is reason to believe one,
Zollner, was of unsound mind at the time, and anxious for experimental
verification of an already accepted hypothesis; another, Fechner, was
partially blind and _believed_ because of Zollner’s observation; a
third, Scheibner, was also afflicted with defective vision and not
entirely satisfied in his own mind with the phenomena; and a fourth,
Weber, was advanced in age, and did not even recognize the disabilities
of his associates. None of the men named had any previous experience or
knowledge of the possibilities of deception.”

The Seybert Commission, in 1884, seems to have made the first
systematic, organized effort to fathom the so-called phenomena of
Spiritualism, and this Commission sent for Slade, who was then
operating in New York, and had him give a number of seances under their
observation, but in spite of the fact that Slade gave the Commission a
personal letter thanking them for their courtesies and expressing his
willingness to sit with them again, the Commission considered his work
fraudulent throughout.

At a very early stage of the sittings, the Commission noticed two kinds
of communications. Those in answer to questions were slovenly written,
often illegible, while those which came as voluntary contributions from
the Spirits, were more carefully written, even to punctuation. It was
very evident that this writing on the slates had been prepared previous
to the sitting, while that written under the restraint of observation
was the crude scrawl, abrupt in composition, and often almost or quite
illegible. It was evident that where the nicely written communications
were used an exchange of slates had been effected, whereas the other
writing was the result of such skill as could be brought to bear
without detection under the unfavorable conditions. It was also
noticed that all of the long messages most suspiciously resembled the
handwriting of the medium. Every test to which Slade submitted proved
to be transparent to the Commission and some of his efforts to mystify
it were referred to as:

“Several little tricks which he imputed to Spiritual agency, but which
were almost puerile in the simplicity of their legerdemain, and which
have been repeated with perfect success by one of our number.”

After all the slate-writing mediums who came in answer to an
advertisement broadcasted by the Seybert Commission had been examined
by it, the acting Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Horace Howard
Furness, invited the late Harry Kellar to exhibit his slate-writing
skill before it, not with any claim to supernatural phenomena but as
a magician openly admitting his purpose to baffle by purely natural
means. Mr. Kellar submitted to a series of tests far more complicated
and difficult of execution than any produced by Slade or any other
medium; nevertheless the Commission was unable to detect his methods
and admitted itself completely baffled.

Mr. Kellar told me that when Mr. Furness, and Coleman Sellers, another
member of the Commission who was himself an amateur entertainer,
applied to him for an exhibition of his skill as a slate-writer they
expected him to do the stock tricks of Slade. But someone tipped
Kellar off that Sellers had told the members of the Commission what
Kellar was to do and his probable method of doing it and for them to
watch out for his _modus operandi_. So, not to be “caught napping,”
Kellar, like the skillful mystifier that he was, determined to out-do
Slade and beat Sellers. As he told me about it he laughed heartily,

“If you could have seen Mr. Sellers’ face at the time of the unfolding
of the mystery, it would have done your heart good.”

When Kellar arrived for the demonstration he insisted that the
Commission furnish its own slates, so a boy was sent out who brought
back about a dozen of various kinds. Then all sat down around the table
with hands resting, palm down, on its top. The Commission opened the
sitting by writing questions on the slates. Kellar held them under the
table with the thumb on top and when he withdrew them in a few moments
they had answers to the questions written in a clear round hand. The
questions gradually became longer and longer, but the replies kept pace
with them, sometimes covering a whole side of the slate. Although the
slates were all different and could not possibly be mistaken for one
another, the Commission began to put identifying marks on them. Once
no pencil was put on the top of the slate but the reply came just the
same. This fact was commented upon and Kellar replied:

“Oh, my Spirits can write _without_ pencils,” a statement which puzzled
the members of the Commission all the more.

Finally the magician asked them to write a question on a slate and
cover it with another, placing the pencil between the two. Even this
did not bother the “Spirits,” for when the slates were returned, both
sides were found covered with writing.

The following extract from the Preliminary Report of the Seybert
Commission, originally published in 1887, describes this performance of
Harry Kellar before members of the Commission and shows the impression
which it made on them.

“An eminent professional juggler performed, in the presence of three of
our Commission, some independent slate-writing far more remarkable than
any of which we have witnessed with mediums. In broad daylight, a slate
perfectly clean on both sides, was, with a small fragment of slate
pencil, held under a leaf of a small, ordinary table, around which
we were seated; the fingers of the juggler’s hand pressed the slate
tight against the underside of the leaf, while the thumb completed the
pressure and remained in full view clasping the leaf of the table.
Our eyes never for the fraction of a second lost sight of that thumb;
it never moved; and yet in a few minutes the slate was produced,
covered with writing. Messages were there, and still are there, for
we preserved the slate, written in French, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese,
Japanese, Gujorati, and ending with ‘_ich bin ein Geist, und lieb, mein
Lagerbier_.’ For one of our number the juggler subsequently repeated
the trick and revealed its every detail.”

The method which Kellar used, and which he described to me, was this.
With the consent of the owner of the hotel, whom he agreed to pay for
any damage, he had a small trap made in the floor of the room, about
as large as a hot air register, with the necessary means of opening
and closing it. A plush rug with rectangular designs was placed over
this trap, and one of the designs, which was just the size of the trap,
was cut out with a razor, these cuts being imperceptible. The piece
of rug was glued firmly to the top of the trap. In addition to these
preparations, Kellar bought a specimen of every variety of slate to be
found in the downtown section of Philadelphia.

When the time for the “seance” arrived, Barney, Kellar’s clever young
assistant, was seated on a platform in the room underneath the trap
with the assortment of slates by his side. As soon as the Commission
was seated around the table he opened the trap and could then hear
all that was said in the room above. When the exhibition commenced
he simply took the slate Kellar put under the table leaf, selected
one from his assortment to match it, wrote on it the answer, and then
slipped it under Kellar’s fingers. In the case of a marked slate he
used that instead of a duplicate. Of course it was perfectly easy for
Kellar to do his part without removing his thumb from the top of the

“A fake, pure and simple, you will say,” Kellar remarked to me, and
then added, “but that’s what all Spiritualistic manifestations are.”

In point of time John W. Truesdell was probably the first exposer of
Slade as he investigated him as early as 1872, but the results of his
investigation were not made public until he published his book, “Bottom
Facts,” in 1883. In this book he tells of setting a trap for Slade and
proving that he substituted slates.

As Sam Johnson of Rome, N. Y., Truesdell arranged for a seance with
Slade. Knowing that his overcoat would be searched, he left it hanging
on the hall rack with an unsealed letter in the pocket and while
waiting in the Spirit room he made the most of his opportunity to look
around. Under the sideboard he found a slate with a message written on
the lower side which read:

    “We are happy to meet you in this atmosphere of Spirit
    research. You are now summoned by many anxious friends in the
    Spirit life, who desire to communicate with you, but who cannot
    until they learn more of the laws which govern their actions.
    If you will come here often, your Spirit friends will soon be
    able to identify themselves and to communicate with you as on
    earth life.


In a bold hand Truesdell added:

    “Henry, look out for this fellow. He is up to snuff.


This was the name of Slade’s deceased wife, a fact which Truesdell
happened to know. He replaced the slate as he had found it. Slade
presently appeared and the seance began with the general phenomena
of moving chairs, etc., preceding the slate-writing. When the name
“Mary Johnson” appeared plainly written on the slate Slade said it was
Truesdell’s sister. Upon being told that this was incorrect, Slade,
pretending to change the light, drew the table over by the sideboard.
As usual he _lost control_ of the slate, letting it fall to the floor,
and as he stooped over to pick it up took the prepared one instead.
When he read the two messages he became livid with rage and turning to
Truesdell demanded to know what it meant and who had been meddling with
the slate.

“Spirits,” was Truesdell’s reply.

There were a few tense seconds and then the seance continued serenely.

I was too young in Slade’s time to seek an audience with him but I have
the good fortune to know Mr. Frederick E. Powell, a prominent magician
and a member of the Society of American Magicians. He is one of the
very few persons now living who had seances with Slade and with his
permission I quote the following description of his experiences with

[Illustration: HENRY SLADE]

“In the Autumn of 1881 or 82, Henry Slade, the famous Spirit medium,
came to Philadelphia and took quarters at the Colonade Hotel, where he
opened a room, in which to hold seances. At that time I was instructor
of Mathematics in the Pennsylvania Military College at Chester, Pa.
Reading the announcement of Slade’s seances in a Philadelphia paper,
I wrote to him, and made an appointment for myself and Capt. R. K.
Carter, to be present at one of them. Capt. Carter was at that time our
instructor in Civil Engineering. Reaching the Colonade at the appointed
time, we were ushered into Slade’s presence, in a room, bare of
furniture, save a rather long table and several chairs, placed in the
center of the room, while at the side and just back of where Slade was
to sit, was a smaller table on which were piled a number of ordinary
looking school slates, of various sizes. The center table had no cloth
on it. Several small articles were on the mantelpiece, such as a smoker
might use, viz.: a match box, etc.

“According to my recollection, Slade was rather tall and slim, and of
an ingratiating presence. He was expecting us and at once placed me at
a long table.

“The seance began, with Slade holding two slates of rather large size,
and showing all their surfaces devoid of writing, placed them on the
top of the table, and while rubbing their surfaces kept up a running
fire of conversation. He then told us to place our hands on the table
as near the center as possible with our little fingers touching. Slade
placed the slates together, and after a moment or two separated them,
saying he had forgotten to put a piece of pencil between. This he did,
and holding them together placed them under the table with one hand,
while he placed the other on the table so that his fingers touched our
hands. This position was held for several minutes, when he said he
would see if he had gotten any results. Bringing the slates from under
the table he laid them on top and after a moment told Capt. Carter to
look at them. Following this direction, Capt. Carter separated them,
when one was found to have its entire surface covered with writing.
This message, according to Slade, came from a man who had just died.
(Notice of the man’s death had been published in the morning paper.)
The message was signed with the full name, but as neither Capt. Carter
nor I knew the man, we could not affirm or deny the correctness of the
handwriting, nor the truth of the signature.

“Capt. Carter asked Slade if he might copy the message, but Slade
demurred, saying he did not know if the Spirits would like the message
copied. I found it difficult to account for the reticence of the Spirit
or Spirits since the message had been written for our information. Its
purport was, as far as I can recall, that everything was very glorious
in the Spirit World, and that he, the writer, was very happy. There
was nothing in the message that was above the mentality of Slade or
that was, in any sense, descriptive of Spirit Life. All was vague and
unsatisfactory, where real information was desired.

“During this demonstration and indeed throughout the entire seance,
Slade sat sidewise to the table, his left hand resting generally on its
top and his right hand free. Several short messages were next produced
on a small slate held by Slade, under the table, and out of sight, a
short piece of slate pencil always being placed on the upper surface
of the slate. Two points were made very emphatic by Slade. First, that
the piece of pencil was always found just at the end of the last word
of the message, and second, that the messages were found on the upper
side of the slate, which according to Slade was held close against the
under surface of the table top. However, as we could not see the slate
when placed under the table, since we were reaching as far as we could
to get our hands on the center of its top, and the slate was only shown
to us when being brought from under its surface, it would have been
an easy thing to lower the slate after placing it under the table and
writing with a single finger of Slade’s right hand, then bringing the
slate to the under surface of the table, bring it slowly into sight.

“Once when the small slate was laid on top of the table the sound of
writing was distinctly heard. During this time Slade had both hands
on the upper surface of the table and in full sight. This was quite
startling at the time, but later I discovered how to produce this sound
of writing myself and without the aid of Spirits.

“Once, while we were having our attention directed to a slate held by
Slade, the unoccupied chair on the side opposite to Slade and almost
at the side of Capt. Carter, suddenly rose so that its seat struck the
under side of the table, and then fell back with quite a thud.

“Another telling effect was carried out, when Slade gave me one of the
small slates telling me to hold it under the table. I did so and felt
it suddenly snatched from my hand (I was holding it with one hand, my
other hand was on the top of the table) and carried with a scraping
noise to the very end of the table and there it rose above the surface
enough to disclose about a third or possibly a half its length. Then it
was carried swiftly back and put in my hand.

“This concluded the first seance; when Slade, after a moment, said he
thought that was all he could get at the time.

“On our second visit I need recount but three effects: First,
difference in the method of obtaining writing on the large slates
which began the seance, as in the first visit. Slade showed one slate
and cleaned it thoroughly, then while keeping up a running fire of
conversation, he casually reached to the small table, spoken of as
having several piles of slates on it, and taking one as though at
hazard, placed it flat on the big table. Rubbed its upper surface
with his fingers, and placed a piece of pencil on it, held it under
the table. After a pause he brought it out and taking the upper slate
off the under, showed both surfaces without writing. He remarked that
perhaps a different piece of pencil would be better and he placed
another pencil on the upper surface of the top slate and then placed
the lower slate over it, without at any time having shown its under
surface. This surface was found covered with writing, the purport of
which I do not now recall.

“The second variation of the first seance was when Slade asked me if
I had ever seen the ‘dematerialization of a solid object?’ I said I
had not, whereupon Slade took a small slate and, looking around as
though to find a proper object for his test, picked up a match box
from the mantelpiece, and put it on the upper surface of the slate
rather close to where he would hold it. He then placed the slate and
its superimposed object carefully under the table and after a moment
brought out the slate, without the match box. I looked under the table
but found nothing suspicious there.

“In a moment Slade replaced the slate under the table and on bringing
it out, we saw the match box in its former place. This disappearance
did not impress me greatly as I concluded the whole secret of
dematerialization consisted in turning the slate over and holding the
box in place by a finger, then after showing the surface empty, the
slate was again turned over on being replaced under the table, and so
the materialization of the box was realized.

“The last test was quite startling. Slade drew his chair close to mine,
placed one of his hands on the chair back and the other on the table.
My hands were resting on the table top. Suddenly I felt the chair rise,
and I was tipped forward, but kept my balance by pushing back with my
hands, which, as I have said, were resting on the table top. Then the
force was quickly withdrawn and my chair and I came back to the floor
with a grand thud. This concluded the second seance. I never saw Slade

Powell explains the levitation thus:

“When Slade drew his chair close to mine he crossed his legs and was
thus enabled to bring his foot under the rung of my chair. The leg
resting over the knee gave considerable leverage to the limb having a
foot under the rung of my chair. Now he exerted the necessary strength
by pressing upward with his foot, and holding the chair back with
his hand while the other hand steadied the whole, by bearing against
the table. Slade took his hand away from the back of my chair for
the fraction of a second _before he released his foot_. I was thus
naturally tilted forward and had to exert some force to keep myself
from sliding off the chair. This effort kept me from seeing Slade free
himself and get his limbs back to their normal position, viz., one hand
on the table, and his feet and legs fairly under it. Slade was rather
tall and, though somewhat slim, was very muscular. Of course I did not
actually _see_ Slade use his foot to do the lifting, but his position
and all the circumstances surrounding the effect tend to prove my
claim as to what I believe he did. Further, while I was far from being
as strong as Slade, I succeeded in duplicating this ‘Levitation’ by the
means I have described.”

While searching for material about Slade I heard of an old medium
living in Philadelphia by the name of Remigius Weiss, known as Remigius
Albus, who had testified before the Seybert Commission regarding
Slade’s manipulation of the slates. I went over to Philadelphia to
his home and there met the only man who had tangible evidence of Dr.
Slade. This he thoroughly explained to me. I asked him why he had never
exposed it to the world and he told me that he held back at first
because of pity for Slade’s condition and afterwards figured that if
the fraud mediums and other potential criminals knew Slade’s methods
they might make use of the methods to gain control of poor human beings
who wished to get in touch with loved ones who had passed away. He
did not hesitate to give me full details and at my request wrote me
a letter describing his experience with Slade. I quote it because I
believe it to be the best exposé ever written of Slade’s slate writings.

                                             “August 18, 1923.

    “My dear Houdini:--

    “Please accept, from me, this Lock-book, and the locked
    double-slate--as a small token of comradeship--in combating
    Spiritualistic deception, popular superstition and Delusion.

    “The book and the slate were my own. I put the lock and hinges
    on the slate, and prepared the book, and a number of other,
    different objects--(such as Professor Zollner had, when he,
    in his foolishness, was pleased to be deceived by Dr. Slade’s

    “In order to gain the perfect, full confidence of Dr. Slade,
    and to have him give a seance in my home, and in order to
    counteract and overcome his explicit aversion as to do writing
    on or between a sealed slate or a locked book--I showed him
    letters from (two eminent and confiding Spiritist Authors)--Dr.
    Heinrich Tiedemann and Tiedemann’s intimate friend Hudson
    Tuttle, promising to me that they would be present at that
    seance (at 148 Fairmount Avenue).

    “Dr. Slade had handled and inspected that Book and Slate,
    during a Seance, at my residence (at 148 Fairmount Avenue,
    Phila., Pa.), where I, together with Mr. Wertheimer (then a
    student of Jurisprudence)--and in presence of other witnesses
    (who were concealed and not seen, nor suspected by Dr. Slade,
    nor his ‘Spirits’) detected the manipulations, pedalations
    (foot, leg and other bodily movements)--and the general _modus
    operandi_ of his simple Legerdemain at the seance. I had ready,
    for that seance, three different suites of Furniture, and thus,
    I found out that he would, or could, perform only at, or on a
    certain kind of plain, square or drop-leaf table and ordinary
    wooden chairs or cane seat chairs.

    “Each person present at the Seance, wrote, _independent_ of
    and _before_ communicating with, the others, a personal,
    individual report of the Seance and signed it within the next
    few days. A day or two after, I put these papers in my pocket
    and also another paper I had prepared, to serve or use as Dr.
    Slade’s confession to be signed by him. I went to the Girard
    Hotel, Room 24 (N. W. corner of 9th and Chestnut Streets,
    Philadelphia, Pa.), to have Dr. Slade arrested for obtaining
    money under false pretense,--or to get him to sign his own
    confession. There, in his room, No. 24, in the Girard Hotel,
    I had another, a different Seance, with Dr. Slade. He again
    carefully scrutinized the book and the slate, and then,
    holding the book under the table, secretly and carefully,
    attempted to open the lock, with a small key, hidden in his

    “Dr. Slade and his pretended ‘_Spirits_’ could not write in
    the book. While holding it under the table, he attempted to
    pull out of the book that thin, wooden, square frame, I had
    put there at the edges of the leaves so that the small piece
    of lead pencil could move about.--Then, in a similar attempt,
    he worked and perspired, on, and over the double slate. His
    ‘Spirits’ could not write in the locked slate and he could not
    open it.

    “He said, ‘The Spirits seem to be angry at your skepticism,
    it’s no use to lose more time by trying. My guide don’t want to
    have anything more to do with you.’

    “Then upon Dr. Slade’s request I unlocked the slate, and he
    wrote in the ordinary way, as writing generally is done in
    schools, two short sentences in the slate. Then he worked
    the sponge,[70] and turning the written on side downward,
    sleight-of-hand trick, tried to palm this off, claiming that
    this is ‘Genuine, independent, Spirit slate writing.’

    “Up to this time, November the 4th, 1882, I had shown to Dr.
    Slade friendly, joyful attentiveness. We talked about some of
    my newspaper articles I had published some weeks before he
    consented to give me a seance.

    “In these newspapers I had described him (Dr. Slade) as ‘The
    Modern Cagliostro, a celebrated necromancer, martyr or a
    charlatan, of radical free-religious proclivities, fine manners
    and a humistic, witty and forceful public lecturer and most
    powerful Spiritistic Medium, who again and again has been
    and is challenging exposures, and calling special attention to
    the fact that Dr. Slade has, in his lectures, and otherwise,
    again and again publicly announced that he is prepared to
    pay a thousand dollars ($1000.00) to any person that can
    prove that he (Dr. Slade) is a humbug, or that Dr. Slade’s
    “manifestations” are trickery, legerdemain, humbug or in any
    way fraudulent.’


    “Dr. Slade seemed to be pleased by my description. After some
    pleasant talk as to his appearance with Scientists, Kings and
    other royal persons and Rulers in Europe and his success as a
    lecturer and his way of living, he gave me his address, No. 221
    West 22nd Street, _New York_.

    “Then I asked Dr. Slade that we change ‘rôles,’ he to take my
    place and be the Investigator,--and I to play the ‘medium,’
    there, in his room, as an ‘experiment.’

    “Dr. Slade also said that if I could overcome my skepticism I
    would be a good ‘psychic,’ having ‘mediumistic’ gifts.

    “I suggested that he should watch me carefully and then
    honestly tell me, as to the effect and ‘impression’ my
    ‘manifestations’ could (or would) be producing on his mind,
    and eventually on the outcome of the ‘Spiritualistic, the
    Harmonial, Philosophy, or so-called, Scientific Religion of the

    “Then, to his consternation, I, earnestly, by actual
    demonstration, reproduced every one of his manifestations,
    _exactly_ (and by the same _modus operandi_, as I, and my
    witnesses had seen and detected) as _Dr. Slade had performed
    them_. He asked me, how, and by what means we detected his
    ‘occult’ or secret mode, or ‘process of wonder working’ or
    miracle?--I mentioned that he had positively refused to try
    any ‘experiment’ on the first and second sets of tables and
    chairs, and had requested me to substitute them by a plain
    kitchen table and chairs of a certain construction.

    “I told him that I had bored observation-holes in the _corners_
    of the panels (particularly so through the _lower_ corners)
    in the parlor doors, the floor, ceiling and other places from
    where my concealed witnesses observed, and have seen exactly
    all the movements of his feet, hands, etc., _below_ and above
    the table,--saw how he raised (‘floated’) Mr. Wertheimer
    sitting in the chair, saw how he (Dr. Slade) with his foot
    upset chairs, kicked a book (extending over the edge of the
    table), tossed a slate pencil from the edge of the table from a
    slate held under and at the edge of the table, etc., etc.


    “Dr. Slade, now turned very pale and wiping off the thick
    perspiration from his forehead and face, said:--‘Well, what of
    it?’ and rashly asked:--‘Where were Hudson Tuttle and Dr. H.
    Tiedemann?’ I reminded him of the fact that they had sent an
    excuse, being unable (by reason of unforeseen circumstances) to
    attend that seance in my house.

    “Then I sternly gave him the alternative:--That either he _sign
    his own confession_ (as to the fact)--that he has (during the
    many years in his career as a professional Spirit medium and
    in everything he had professed or pretended to be ‘genuine’
    Spiritistic or Spiritualistic) deceived and defrauded the
    public.--I read the confession to him and sternly demanded,
    ‘Either you sign this or you will be put behind the bars.’--


    “The undersigned, Henry Slade, known professionally as Dr.
    Henry Slade,--the powerful Spiritistic medium--by reason of
    the force of unfavorable circumstances, years ago became
    a Spiritualistic slate writing (etc., etc.) medium, and
    Spiritistic lecturer and he herewith confesses that all
    his pretended Spiritualistic manifestations were and are
    deceptions, performed through tricks.

                                             (Signed)  H. Slade.”

“I (R. Weiss) had also stipulated that he (Dr. Slade) promises to
discontinue his present dishonest, criminal method of gaining a
livelihood by preying on the superstition of Spiritualists and through
the gullibility of the public,--Dr. Slade then remonstrated and
said:--that I could not affect his standing in the eyes of those who
had seen and believed his manifestations, mentioning the Czar of Russia
and others of world prominence.

“I then walked to the door, signifying that _my part_ of the interview
and argument was ended--and also conveying the ‘impression’ as to my
intention to have him arrested.

“He then changed his attitude and in a cringing manner he pleaded with
me to have mercy on him, as he had only this one method of earning a
livelihood. All of this, and his pleading, was so strenuous that he
fell in a ‘dead’ faint.--

“Then, after I ‘revived’ him out of a ‘_genuine_’ fainting spell, he
begged me to desist from having him arrested and then _he signed the

                                      (Signed)  “Remigius Weiss.”



A remarkably large number of methods have been used at one time
and another by the numerous mediums of lesser repute than Slade
who prospered on slate writing. Slade himself, like any skilled
prestidigitator, had a variety of ways which he used to produce his
effects. His usual method was very simple. A common kitchen table with
the leaves extended was used, the Doctor being seated at the end and
the client on the side against the leaf, at the Doctor’s right.

After the slate had been thoroughly washed on both sides he placed it
under the leaf at the left of the sitter, holding it in position with
the fingers of his right hand, with his thumb above the table. The
sitter was requested to hold the left end of the slate with one hand
and with the other to grasp the Doctor’s left hand near the center of
the table. In such a position it was impossible for the sitter to see
the slate or the fingers of the medium.

On the forefinger of his right hand Slade had a sort of thimble or ring
to which was attached a bit of slate pencil. With this he wrote a short
message on the bottom side of the slate, the scratching of the pencil
being quite audible to the sitter. When this scratching ceased the
Doctor would be seized with a series of nervous spasms during which the
slate was snatched from the sitter’s hand for the fraction of a second
and, unknown to him, turned over, thus bringing the message to the top
so that when a few minutes later it was shown the message appeared as
though written between the slate and the table leaf.

A second method, which produced longer messages, was the substitution
of slates. If this message was of a general character the slate was
_switched_ for one bearing a previously written message concealed about
a nearby piece of furniture. If a special message was required it was
written by an assistant listening in the next room. When the slate had
been cleaned ready for the message the Doctor gave the cue and the
assistant rapped on the door. The Doctor answered the knock in person,
taking the slate with him, and while listening to some commonplace
report the slates were exchanged. On resuming his seat the slate was
placed under the table leaf as before. No sound of writing being heard,
he would examine the top of the slate several times but of course find
no writing. Finally, claiming that the influence did not seem powerful
enough, he would lay the slate on the top of the table, message side
down with a piece of pencil under it, and then take both the hands
of the sitter in his. Soon a sound of writing would be heard and on
examination the message would be found. It was possible for Slade to
produce the sound of writing while his hands were holding those of his
client by slipping a piece of pencil through threads on the side of his
knee and rubbing it against another piece held to the table leg by a
wooden clip.

One of the most common methods of slate writing is known as the “flap
slate.” The message is written beforehand and concealed with a flap of
silicated gauze, or thin slate, which fits closely within the slate
frame. One side of this flap is covered with cloth to match that used
on the top of the table and when it is dropped is unnoticed. A better
way is to cover the back of the flap with newspaper and by dropping it
on a newspaper it becomes invisible.

There is an ingenious double form of this flap slate with which it is
possible to make a message appear on both inside surfaces of a pair of
locked slates without having them leave the sight of the sitter for
an instant. The two slates are hinged together like the old-fashioned
school slates but with the hinges on the outside of the slates. The
slabs of slate are very thin and the ends of the frames bevel toward
them slightly. One end of each frame is so made that by pressing on
one of the hinge screws the frame end is released and can be drawn out
about a quarter of an inch. A very thin slab of slate called the “flap”
is arranged to fit snugly over the real slate when the frame ends are
in place but drops out as soon as they are released and drawn out. In
working these slates the medium writes a message on the inside of one
of them, say the left, and also on one side of the flap. The end of
the slate with the message is then drawn out and the flap inserted,
message side down, and the frame fastened back in place. A secret mark
on the outside of the frame shows which slate is written upon. The
slates can then be shown and will appear clean on all four sides, and
it is possible to either seal or lock them without interfering with the
success of the demonstration. They are then placed on the table with
the fake ends nearest the medium and while he leans on their ends with
half-folded arms, engaging the sitter in conversation, he at the same
time with the fingers of his concealed hand pulls out the frame ends,
allowing the flap to fall from one slate to the other, and then secures
it in place by putting the ends back. Of course when the slates are
opened a closely written message is found on both.

Another sort of double slate intended for producing a similar effect
in dark seances or cabinet work also has a loose end which instead of
moving a quarter of an inch draws out to any length, bringing the slab
with it. After the lights are out or the cabinet closed it is an easy
matter to draw out the slab and write a message on it.


Writing is sometimes produced between two perfectly honest slates which
have been fastened together at the corners by inserting a wedge of hard
wood between the frames, thus separating them enough to slip between
them a piece of wire with a bit of slate pencil fastened to its tip. By
this means a message can be produced at a dark seance in a few minutes
without breaking the seals.

There is a form of slate where the slab is invisibly hinged on the side
so that it opens like a door and is held shut by a secret catch. This
slate can be used in a dark seance or under the table at a light one.
It can also be used on a cloth-top table with an invisible trap. The
trap and the hinged slate drop down together and the medium is able to
write on the slate by reaching under the table.

Still another scheme used with a pair of hinged slates is to have a
hole through both frames at one end and locking them with a padlock.
In working this the pins are pushed out of the hinges and the frames,
moving easily on the shackle of the padlock, permit the medium to
write on the inside of the slates without difficulty, afterwards
fastening the slates together again by simply replacing the pins in the

A method of concealing an extra slate is to have it a trifle smaller
than the rest and then hidden in some convenient place, say the seat of
a chair. A large slate is first examined and laid on the chair. Later
it is picked up with the extra one under it. Sometimes the extra one is
hidden under the edge of a rug on the floor and worked in the same way.
At other times it is hidden on the medium’s body and slipped under a
large slate when the medium stands with his right side on a line with
the sitter’s vision.

An entirely different method is employed to some extent by mediums
who are very rapid and interesting talkers. Throughout the seance the
medium walks nervously about the room, keeping up a continual flow of
conversation. He passes two slates to the sitter for examination. A
third, the same size, with a previously written message on one side,
being concealed in a large pocket inside the breast of his coat. While
the slates are being examined he walks about the room sometimes behind
and sometimes in front of the sitter, tapping him on the shoulder to
emphasize his remarks. As soon as the slates are examined he takes
them and, passing behind the sitter, places them on his head and asks
him to hold them there and at the same time continuing his walk and
talk. Of course when the slates are examined there is a message on the
inside of one of them. When the medium steps behind the sitter with
the slates in his hand he quickly changes the slate with a message
which he has hidden for one of the blank ones. This is no more bold or
difficult than many mediumistic tricks but it requires a particularly
fluent conversationalist to successfully produce the needed amount
of misdirection when the slates are switched. Women mediums effect a
similar exchange sometimes by the aid of a special pocket in the dress.

A very effective method of getting a direct answer to a question on
the inside of a sealed double slate is as follows. The slates are
thoroughly cleansed by the sitter, who writes a question on a slip of
paper, folds it and places it between the slates, with a bit of pencil.
The medium keeps at a distance during the writing and cannot see what
has been written. The slates are then sealed with strips of paper and
placed on the table and the sitter holds both hands of the medium.
After a time, as no sound of writing is heard, the medium shows some
concern as to the possibility of failure and _suggests_ that the sitter
hold the slates at the top of his own head. Still there is no sound
and the slates are returned to the table, where they remain for some
time without any sign of writing. The medium becomes very much worried
and suggests that the slates be placed on the sitter’s head again,
remarking that if no sound is heard he will be obliged to postpone that
test till a future sitting. This time the writing is heard almost as
soon as the slates touch the head and when it ceases and the slates are
unsealed a complete answer is found written on the inner surface of one
or both slates.

This seeming marvel is produced in the following simple manner. The
medium’s assistant steals into the room with a duplicate pair of sealed
slates and stands behind the sitter. In the act of placing the slates
on the head a switch is made, and the sitter holds the duplicates while
the originals are taken into an adjoining room by the assistant. He
lifts the seals with a hot table knife and after reading the question
he writes an appropriate answer, reseals the slates and returns to his
position behind the sitter. Another exchange is made when the slates
are placed on the sitter’s head the second time. The sound of writing
is made by the medium under the table with a piece of slate pencil and
a bit of slate, but it is so faint that the sitter cannot locate it.


In Bohemia, Province of Prague, I ran across a medium who was
especially good in slate writing. At first I could not “get” his work.
When I was playing in Berlin, at the Wintergarten, he came in one night
and wanted to give a performance to the directors. I was guest but went
prepared for him. His work was so designed that he walked behind us and
in so doing he baffled me. I asked for a private sitting and he readily

When he did the slate writing at this sitting I felt someone’s
presence, and, sure enough, when he took the slates away there was
an almost imperceptible hesitation. In this fraction of a second the
slates were switched through a _trap in the panel_ behind me. I had a
mirror on a rubber elastic fastened to my vest and as I took my seat
I pulled the elastic so I could sit on it. I managed to secure this
mirror and keep it palmed in my hand, and with it saw the panel slide
open, the arm extended with the duplicate slates, and the exchange made.

S. S. Baldwin, an acknowledged expert in Spiritualistic and Telepathic
tomfoolery, was bamboozled by a Dr. Fair, according to his own story
which he told to me in December, 1920. He received a message on a slate
held by himself under a table, and afterwards, at the suggestion of
the Doctor, made a thorough examination of the table, the room, and
everything in sight, but failed to discover a concealed door in the
wainscot of the wall through which a man in black garments could find
his way to space under a sofa and thence to the table, which was a
rather large one, do the Spirit writing and then make his exit while
Mr. Baldwin was fully occupied holding the slate under the table with
his eyes fixed on space above it.

One of the very best mediumistic tricks, and one that has made the
reputation of more than one well-known medium, is done with a number of
small slates and one large one. The size of the slates is immaterial
but the large one should be three or four inches larger each way than
the others. The manner of presentation differs somewhat with different
performers but in general is as follows.

When the sitters arrive the slates are piled near one corner of the
table, the larger one at the bottom and eight or nine smaller ones on
top of it. The medium stands at the end of the table nearest the slates
and after a few casual remarks he picks up the top slate with his
left hand, changes it to his right and passes it to the sitter to be
examined and cleaned if desired. When he is quite satisfied the medium
takes it back, glances at both sides, and then places it on the table
directly in front of the sitter. This is repeated with the remaining
small slates, which are not stacked up evenly but left in a haphazard
pile. While the last small slate is being placed on the pile with the
medium’s right hand he picks up the large slate with his left and rests
it on top of the others, at the same time passing the sitter a pencil
and asking him to write a few lines on it requesting the Spirits to
favor him with a message and to sign his name to it. He is at liberty
to examine this slate also and to write his message on either side.

The large slate is then placed at the right of the sitter and he is
asked to place his right hand on it. The small slates are then evened
up by the medium, secured by a heavy rubber band and then placed in
the center of the table. The medium then takes a seat at the table
opposite the sitter and they clasp hands at the sides of the slates.
After a sufficient pause the slates are unbound by the sitter and on a
slate near the center of the stack a message is found written in chalk
or slate pencil and signed by a departed friend.

The secret of this startling effect is extremely simple. Concealed
beneath the big slate at the beginning of the seance is a smaller
slate with the message already written on it. This is picked up with
the larger one when the latter is placed on the stack for the sitter
to write on it and dropped on the others, written side down. The
extra slate is never noticed as the pile has not been counted and the
business of passing the slate pencil occupies the sitter’s attention so
that he does not realize that the large slate rests on the small ones
before he examines it.

The medium then takes about half the small slates, evens them up and
lays them to one side and repeats with the remaining ones, laying them
evenly on the others. This is a perfectly natural move as the whole
stack makes more than a handful and by means of it the slate with the
message is placed in the middle of the stack. The stack is then set
on end, the rubber band placed around it, and it is then ready to be
placed in the middle of the table for conclusion of the seance.

Two methods of writing between locked or sealed double slates when only
one or two words were needed puzzled the investigators for a long time.
The first was worked with a strong magnet. The bit of slate pencil
which was put between the slates was specially prepared with either
powdered soapstone mixed with iron filings, water, and glue, or a small
piece of iron was used covered with a paste of soapstone, water, and
mucilage. By holding the magnet under the slates and tracing the words
_backwards_ the prepared pencils would follow the magnet and write the
words. The other method was worked with an electro magnet set in the
table, the necessary wires running down one leg and making contact with
a copper plate in the floor under the rug by means of a sharp metal
point on the end of the leg.

Since the introduction of “raps”[71] by the Fox Sisters various methods
have been devised for producing them. One of the simplest expedients
is for the medium to slightly moisten the fingers and slide them very
gently on the top of the table. A little experimenting soon shows the
amount of pressure necessary to produce the desired amount of sound
and of course the medium is cautious to let the fingers move only the
desired distance and that too when no one is looking.

Another simple method is to place the thumbs close together in such a
manner that the nail of one overlaps the other a trifle. Then while the
thumbs are pressed hard on the table if one nail is slipped up or down
distinct raps are produced which seem to come from the top of the table.

Some mediums produce raps by slipping a knee up and down against a
table leg. Others have been known to fasten blocks of wood to the knee
under the skirt and rap on the table leg with a sidewise motion of the
knee. Still others strike the table leg with the heel of the shoe or
press the side of the heel against the table leg and by moving the heel
up and down the friction of the leather against the wood produces raps.


Many mediums will not depend on these methods but use more complicated
ones which produce the raps by means of mechanical devices which they
conceal about their person. One of these consists of a small hollow
metal tube in which a long, heavy burlap needle is arranged to move
up and down like a piston, and attached to it to operate it a stout
black thread. The tube is fastened to the inner side of a trouser
leg. The free end of the thread is brought out through a seam and an
inconspicuous little hook attached. After being seated at the seance
table the medium attaches the little hook to the opposite trouser leg
and draws on it until the needle point comes through the cloth. He then
watches an opportunity to press on to the point of the needle a cork to
which has been attached a piece of lead. This accomplished, all he has
to do is to place the knee in the proper relation to the table and by
moving the other back and forth the piston is made to work up and down,
causing the leaded cork to rap out all sorts of messages.


Another ingenious mechanical contrivance is built into the heel of the
medium’s shoe and operated electrically by running a wire from it up
through the sole of the shoe and passing it between the back of the
shoe and the foot and so on up the leg to batteries concealed in a
pocket. By placing this heel against a table leg the raps can be made
to sound as though coming from the middle of the table and with a
proper amount of “suggestion” the sitters can be made to believe that
the mysterious taps are produced in turn under each pair of hands on
the table.

Table levitating is easily accomplished in the dark, through the
aid of a confederate, by several different methods. If the medium
and his assistant are seated opposite, by raising their knees at a
signal they can lift the table from the floor without difficulty. By
slightly rocking or tipping the table the medium and assistant can
simultaneously slip a foot under table legs diagonally opposite, lift
the table and keep it balanced by the pressure of the hands on its top.
These and many similar methods are perfectly practical in dark seances
but for manifestations where there is any danger of the sitters being
able to see mechanical contrivances are resorted to. The oldest form is
simply a light, though powerfully strong, length of blue steel riveted
to a stout leather wrist strap. When not in use the whole thing is
concealed in the medium’s sleeve. Sometimes both the medium and the
assistant are thus equipped.

This has been somewhat superseded by a chamois-covered flat steel hook
concealed under the vest and riveted to a tight-fitting leather belt
encircling the medium’s body. With this hook under the table edge great
power can be exerted upon the table with very little strain upon the
operator. The lifting strength of a human hair is not generally known,
yet by means of one freshly taken from the head, long enough to span
a small light table, the table can be lifted. One of the more modern
contrivances is a steel belt which the operator wears and to the front
of which is attached a short metal arm which can be engaged under
the table top in such a way that the operator can take his hands off
the table and still support it in the air. When releasing the table
the metal arm is slipped back and the steel belt shifted to another
position on the body, the medium’s coat concealing both.

Just as advances are made in other lines of work, so too mediums
advance in their methods of deceiving their subjects. Few would resort
to the old-time methods of releasing a foot from under the foot of an
investigator. They have devised a new and baffling method. The medium’s
shoes are especially made for her in such a way that by a certain
pressure on the sole it is possible to withdraw the greater portion of
the shoe with the foot from a false front. This front is made of metal
and padded. When the medium asks the committee to place their feet on
hers she makes sure that they do not over-reach the portion she can
withdraw from. In the full glare of the light the investigator thinks
he feels the medium’s foot securely held under his own and as he cannot
see under the table the medium has the full use of her foot to produce

I once gave a seance while I was touring in England. It was a dark
seance and just at the psychological moment a Spirit came through the
window and walked around on the wall and ceiling of the room and then
out of another window. The explanation is simple. On the bill with me
were two acrobats, hand to hand balancers. One took off his shoes and
stockings and the other sneaked up to him. He pulled down the window
and then did a hand-to-hand balance with his partner and walked around
the room. He then went back to his seat, put on his shoes, and looked
as innocent and meek as possible under the circumstances when the
lights were turned on. I told every one present that it was only a
trick but as usual they insisted that I was a medium.

A rope trick which always causes astonishment and helps to create a
belief in supernatural aid is done by a woman medium who enters a
cabinet with a rope bound around her neck. The loose ends of the rope
are forced through opposite sides of the cabinet and held tightly by
two members of the committee. Nevertheless the manifestations take
place just the same and when the cabinet is opened afterwards the
medium is found bound just as she was before the seance. As a matter of
fact when the curtains have been closed and the committee have a grip
on the ends of the rope the medium cuts the specially tied loop around
her neck. When she is ready to come out she simply ties another loop,
using a duplicate piece of rope which she had concealed on her person.
When the committee release the ends of the rope she slips the mutilated
piece into her bloomers and appears with the duplicate, which looks
like the original one.

There are various methods of producing Spirit photographs. One is to
have a table prepared so that a developing pan is placed where an X-ray
penetrates to the negative. This produces a “Spirit light.” Another is
to fix the side of the plate with some luminous substance, shape, or
flash, and it is astonishing what these things look like. You get forms
and frequently recognize faces in the splotches. Father de Heredia
has palmed a figure in his hand and as the investigator signed the
negative remarked: “I might as well sign it myself.” In so doing he
rested the left hand over the plate while signing with his right and
the phosphorous figure in his hand was photographed on the negative. A
simple method is to have something concealed in the hand and hold it
over the lens instead of a cap, and still another is to get the camera
out of focus and snap it secretly, then when the regular exposure is
made there is an additional hazy something on the plate.

One of the most startling swindles I ever heard of a medium working
was called “finger-printing a Spirit.” In this test the medium shows
the sitter finger prints of the departed soul. I hesitated at first
about including this fake, fearing to add to the stock of unscrupulous
mediums but I finally concluded that the public should know about it.
The scheme was first discovered by a sculptor who dabbled some in
Spiritualism. One day, several years ago, a workman fell from the top
of the building, in which this man had his studio, and was killed. The
body was carried into the studio and while alone with it the sculptor
conceived the idea of fooling some guests who were to hold a seance
that night. He hurriedly made a plaster of Paris mould of the dead
man’s fingers and later filled it with a rubber-like substance used in
his work. When this had hardened and the plaster had been removed it
resembled, even to the most minute detail, the dead hand.

During the seance that night he produced finger prints with it on a
trumpet which he had lampblacked and upon investigation it was found
that these finger prints corresponded exactly with those of the man
in the morgue. No one was able to explain the mystery and he kept the
secret for some time but later another medium learned it and obtained a
position in an undertaking establishment where he found an opportunity
after a while to secure the finger prints of several of the dead who
belonged to the wealthy class. In due time he arranged seances with
the relatives and convinced them of his genuineness. There are two
cases on record where fortunes were at stake because of this sort of
fraud. In one case five hundred thousand dollars changed hands upon
the recognition of the finger prints of a man who had died two years
before. His hand had been maimed in an accident and all the scars
showed in the impression on the Spirit slate. Fortunately a confession
was wrung from the medium and the money went to the rightful heirs.

A “manifestation” which seems mysterious but which is in reality
ridiculously simple is worked as follows. A glass is filled with water
and placed on the table in a cabinet. Ribbons or bands of tape are then
drawn over it at right angles and the ends fastened to the table with
nails. Thus secured the glass cannot be lifted and the top is entirely
covered except some small openings. The medium is then locked into
the cabinet for a few minutes, during which he keeps up a continual
clapping of his hands, but when the cabinet is unlocked the glass is
empty of water and the general impression is that the Spirits drained
it. As a matter of fact the medium had worked his hands up near his
face and shifted from slapping his hands to slapping his face with
one hand. This left a hand free and with it he had no difficulty in
producing a straw from his pocket and sucking the water from the glass.

Of course these examples are only a few of the many means employed by
mediums to produce their “manifestations” and take advantage of the
credulity of the average sitter, but they are enough to show the reader
the sort of methods practiced and the lengths to which they will go in
their deceptions.



With what is perhaps pardonable pride we point to the genius of
American enterprise in scientific advancement but it is with decided
chagrin that I repeat that, as modern Spiritualism was born in America,
so also have been most of the phenomena that under the mask of
Spiritualism have unbalanced so many fine intellects the world over.
Spirit photography, the most prominent of mediumistic phenomena, had
its beginning in Boston, “Hub” of intellectual development, its coming
being announced by Dr. Gardner, a devout Spiritualist, who discovered a
photographer that “in taking a photograph of himself, obtained on the
same plate a likeness of a cousin dead some twelve years before.”

This was in 1862, but a little more than a decade after the original
demonstration of so-called Spirit power at Hydesville. Fortunately for
the success of the new art the photographer selected by the inhabitants
of “Summerland”[72] to use for the demonstration of the new phenomena
was a medium and of all the hosts in heaven the spirit chosen to be
photographed was (singular coincidence) a cousin of his who had passed
the border some years previous.

No sooner had the discovery been announced than spiritual enthusiasts
in large numbers began flocking to the studio of the medium, Mr.
William H. Mumler, and this kept up until evil spirits (?) began to
create an atmosphere of doubt and skepticism, whereupon he abruptly
took himself and his new enterprise to New York City, a precipitous
plunge presumably prompted by his Spiritual guides.

The change proved to be of great financial benefit to Mumler until the
ire of the evil Spirits was once more aroused and he was arrested on a
charge of fraudulent transactions. A most interesting and sensational
trial followed with many noted people appearing as witnesses, among
them being that prince of showmen, Phineas Taylor Barnum, who testified
for the prosecution, and Judge John W. Edmonds, of the Supreme Court
Bench, for the defence.[73]

Mr. Barnum testified to having spent much time and study in the
detection of humbugs and had recently written a book called “The
Humbugs of the World.” He knew Mumler only through reputation but had
had some correspondence with him in regard to his pictures, wishing to
learn his process and expose it in his book, and some pictures which
Mumler sent him Barnum paid ten dollars apiece for and put in his
museum labelled as “Spiritualistic Humbugs.”

Barnum’s testimony was attacked by Mumler’s lawyer who characterized it
as being a “very pretty illustration of humbug” and added that even if
it were true Barnum violated the “great precept relating to honor among
thieves,” but I want to go on record as believing that Mr. Barnum told
the truth in the Mumler case.

Judge Edmonds declared on the stand that he had seen Spirits although
many Spiritualists could not and recalled an instance when he was on
the bench trying a case in which the payment of an accident insurance
policy was the issue. He told the court that the whole aspect of the
case was changed after he saw the spirit of the suicide and several
questions which this Spirit had suggested were put to the witness, the
decision being reversed on the testimony thus brought out. He also
testified to his belief that Mumler’s pictures were genuine photographs
of Spirits.

During the trial many methods[74] of producing Spirit “extras” were
shown in court by expert photographers and the possibilities of the
effect being produced by natural means proven. The investigators,
however, did not have their case in good shape. There were strong
grounds for suspicion but they were unable to present positive proof
and though the court was morally convinced that fraudulent methods had
been practiced sufficient evidence to convict Mumler was lacking.

Although acquitted, it is significant that Mumler refused an offer
of five hundred dollars to reproduce his pictures in another studio
under test conditions and while free to resume his business so far
as the court was concerned, with a full harvest of dupes waiting to
be fleeced, he was nevertheless soon lost to view and seems to have
vanished entirely after the publication of his book in 1875.

Spiritualistic mediumship is not immune to the flattery of imitation
for even a casual examination of Spiritualistic history and development
shows that just as soon as a medium forms a new alliance with the
psychic power dispenser and produces phenomena unknown before, other
mediums immediately begin to produce it also and the new manifestation
soon becomes epidemic. It was so with Spirit photography. No one had
thought of such a possibility before Mumler invented the mystery but
talented mediums everywhere when they heard of his pictures began to
produce them also. Stories of his success crossed the sea and Europe
discovered equal talent there.

In the summer of 1874 a Parisian photographer by the name of Buguet
went over to London and attracted considerable attention with his
Spirit pictures. They were of much higher artistic quality than any
preceding ones and Podmore in his “Modern Spiritualism” tells us that:

“The Spirit faces were in most cases clearly defined, and were, in
fact, frequently recognized by the sitters, and even W. H. Harrison
failed to detect any trickery in the operation.”

After a short stay during which his demonstrations completely
satisfied such men as Rev. Stainton Moses, who was liberal with his
endorsements, Buguet returned to Paris, where the next year he was
placed under arrest “charged with the fraudulent manufacture of
Spirit photographs.” Unlike Mumler, his conscience did not prove
court-proof, or perhaps the evidence against him was such that a
friendly Spirit advised confession, at any rate he told the court that
all of his Spirit photographs were the result of double exposure. On
the strength of this confession Buguet was convicted and sentenced to
one year of imprisonment and a fine of five hundred francs. A like
sentence was given to M. Leymaire, Editor of the _Revue Spirits_, who
admitted suggesting to Buguet that he should enter the field of Spirit

The police seized all the paraphernalia in the studio of Buguet and
took it to court. Amongst it was a lay figure and a large stock of
heads. These with dolls and assistants at the studio took turns as
inspirations for Spirit extras. But the real interest of the trial
was not these revelations, Podmore tells us, for after all Buguet did
little to improve on the methods inaugurated by his predecessors. It
is the effect produced on his dupes by Buguet’s confession, and the
display of his trick apparatus, which is really worthy of attention.
Witness after witness--journalist, photographic expert, musician,
merchant, man of letters, optician, ex-professor of history, Colonel
of Artillery, etc., etc.--came forward to testify on behalf of the
accused. Some had watched the process throughout, and were satisfied
that trickery had not been practiced. Many had obtained on the plate
unmistakable portraits of those dear to them, and found it impossible
to relinquish their faith. One after another these witnesses were
confronted with Buguet, and heard him explain how the trick had been
done. One after another they left the witness-box, protesting that they
could not doubt the evidence of their own eyes. Here, chosen almost at
random from many similar accounts, is the testimony of M. Dessenon,
picture-seller, aged fifty-five. After describing how he had obtained
in the first instance various figures which he could not recognize, he

“‘The portrait of my wife, which I had especially asked for, is so like
her that when I showed it to one of my relatives he exclaimed, “It’s my

“_The Court_: ‘Was that chance, Buguet?’

“_Buguet_: ‘Yes, pure chance. I had no photograph of Mme. Dessenon.’

“_The Witness_: ‘My children, like myself, thought the likeness
perfect. When I showed them the picture they cried, “It’s mama.” A very
fortunate chance!... I am convinced it was my wife.’

“_The Court_: ‘You see this doll and all the rest of the things?’

“_The Witness_: ‘There is nothing there in the least like the
photograph which I obtained.’”

Incidentally there were two or three curious bits of evidence on the
value of recognition as a test. _A police officer stated that Buguet
showed him a portrait which had done duty as the sister of one sitter,
the mother of a second, and the friend of a third._ Again, it came out
in the evidence that a very clearly defined head (reproduced as an
illustration to Stainton Moses’ articles in _Human Nature_) which had
been claimed by M. Leymaire as the portrait of his almost life long
friend, M. Poiret, was recognized by another witness as an excellent
likeness of his father-in-law, _still living_ at Breux, and much
annoyed at his premature introduction to the Spirit world.

From Mumler’s first pictures to the present day, Spirit photography
has played a large part in the field of Spiritualistic devotion, and
innumerable mediums have discovered that they possessed the same
phenomenal power for producing the coveted likeness in the form of
“extras” on the sensitized plate. The art has now advanced to such a
stage that it is no longer necessary for one to sit but all that is
needed is a relic of the departed one, something which either belonged
or was of especial interest, to the person. This relic is photographed
and when the plate is developed there appears beside it as an “extra”
the face of the departed; that is, I should say, if your imagination
is strong enough to see a resemblance to the person supposed to be

Nor is a camera necessary in these days, according to Spiritualists.
In fact, I am told that it is not necessary to even open a box of
plates, but that they can be “magnetized” just as they come from the
maker _provided_ the box is in the possession of the medium a few
days in advance of the sitting. This single condition fulfilled and
the demonstration will follow if the sitters, including the nearest
relative, pile their hands on top of the medium’s. Then to create a
solemn atmosphere the sitters are usually asked to join in some form
of religious devotion such as singing “Nearer, My God, To Thee,” or a
fervent prayer.

This is the type of performance conducted by what is known as the
“Crewe Photographers” and supported and defended by the present day
leaders in Spiritualism. This Crewe combination of photographers is
under the management of professional Spiritualists and is an organized
effort to promulgate this particular phase of Spiritualistic phenomena.
The group consists of Mr. William Hope and Mrs. Buxton, Crewe; Mrs.
Deane of London; and Mr. Vearncombe of Bridgewater.

My friend, Harry Price, attended a sitting given by Hope and tells of
the religious exercises as follows:

“Mrs. Buxton sang several verses of ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee,’ after
which Mr. Hope made a long impromptu prayer in which he thanked God
for all our many mercies, and hoped He would continue His blessings at
the present moment. He also craved blessings on our fellow creatures
and friends on the other side and asked assistance in the attempt to
link up with them, etc. Then Mrs. Buxton sang another hymn, after which
Mr. Hope picked up the package of dry plates, put them between the
hands of Mrs. Buxton, placed her hands on his, and others in the party
piled their hands on top. Then we had another impromptu prayer by Mrs.
Buxton. Then the Lord’s Prayer was sung, and a short hymn concluded the

Can one imagine a sacrilege more revolting than singing hymns, saying
prayers, and calling on the Almighty for help in such fraudulent work?

The combination evaded detection and were doing a most successful
business when in the spring of 1921, Mr. Edward Bush, of the Society of
Psychical Research, laid a snare into which Hope walked with his eyes
wide open. Mr. Bush wrote for an appointment under the assumed name of
“D. Wood,” enclosing a photograph of a son-in-law who was alive. On the
back of the photograph was written:

“Tell Dad, if anything happens to me, I will try and let him have a
Spirit Photo. Tell him to shout up to let me know where he goes to.

                                             “Jack Ackroyd.”

Hope arranged a time for a sitting but returned the photo, saying he
regretted that it had been sent as it subjected him to suspicion. When
the time for the sitting arrived Hope went under control and Mr. Bush
manipulated the plates as he directed but no “extras” appeared. On the
next day, however, when the plate was developed after another sitting,
there was an “extra” which proved to be a likeness of the son-in-law.
Mr. Bush published the details of this exposure in a pamphlet and the
London _Truth_ said editorially:

“But not only have William Hope and his sister medium, Mrs. Buxton,
cause to kick themselves at Mr. Bush’s exposure, Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle,[75] Lady Glenconner, the Rev. Walter Wynn, and many other
leading lights of the movement have brought these products of faith and
hope forward as conclusive proof of the continuation of existence and
the possibility of communication with the next world.”

Later in the same year, Mr. C. R. Mitchell, a former leader of the
Hackney Spiritualistic Society and well known in mediumistic circles in
London, was selected to “undertake certain tests of a scientific nature
for the purpose of ascertaining the value of these Spirit phenomena.”
Mr. Mitchell was a photographer and wished to use his own plates in the
experiment but Mrs. Deane, who was to conduct it, refused to let him
unless he _first left them with her for a few days to be magnetized_.
He objected to this and it was finally agreed that he could use his own
plates provided he would magnetize them himself but the results were
unsatisfactory. He then purchased from Mrs. Deane a package of fresh
plates, which, it was claimed, had not been opened since it left the
manufacturer. The likeness of a soldier appeared on one of these which
Mr. Mitchell developed himself and he concluded that not only had the
plates been “magnetized” but that they had been exposed in a camera as

The issue of _Truth_ for June 28th, 1922, gives an account of the
experience of an ex-Indian missionary, who, with three others, visited
the Crewe photographers and sat for Spirit pictures. Four exposures
were made and Spirit “extras” appeared on two of the plates but the
men could not remember whether the plates had at any time been beyond
their control so the missionary arranged for another sitting taking the
precaution to have his plates marked on the corner with a glazier’s
diamond. At this second sitting one Spirit extra was produced but
there was _no diamond mark_ on the plate, positive proof that an
exchange had been effected.

During 1922 the Occult Committee of the Magic Circle took up the
investigation of Spirit photography first giving its attention to Mr.
Vearncombe who produced Spirit extras in connection with some object
once in possession of the deceased. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put this
committee in touch with the Honorary Secretary of the Society for
the Study of Supernormal Pictures, Mr. Barlow, and at the latter’s
suggestion sent him an unopened package of plates for Mr. Vearncombe.
Although Barlow objected, “for Vearncombe’s satisfaction, though not
essential,” the package was enclosed in a lead case. Also at Barlow’s
suggestion a fee accompanied the package. After a month of waiting the
committee received a photograph of the package and on the photograph
was a spirit message which read: “Barred your side.”

In order to remove the barrier a fresh package of plates was forwarded
to Vearncombe, this time in an ordinary wrapper. Some months later,
after the plates had been Spiritually treated by Vearncombe, they were
returned to the committee. When developed “psychic extras” were found
on two plates. There was evidence that the package had been tampered
with and the same spirit had been seen on other photographs.

The committee sent Vearncombe a package of plates under an assumed name
but received word from him that it was not necessary to send plates.
That small objects which had belonged to the deceased would do and
that if the proper fee were enclosed photographic prints showing the
“psychic extras” obtained would be supplied. As a full compliance with
this suggestion would have been useless as a test, a box of plates, a
small object supposed to have belonged to the deceased, and the fee
were sent.

Again Vearncombe protested that he did not treat unopened boxes
of plates owing to many failures but offered to expose plates on
the object which had been supplied. He was informed that such
exposure would be unsatisfactory whereupon rather than disappoint
his correspondent, he consented and forwarded the package with the
statement that he had treated the plates as desired and hoped for
success. On development a “psychic image” appeared on one of the plates
but the committee found that the wrappers of the package had been
unsealed and the plates disturbed in their arrangement.

In order to clinch the results of their trapping Vearncombe was
informed that the experiment had been a “success” but in order to
“avoid criticism” he was asked for an assurance that the package had
not been tampered with. It soon came in the form of a written statement
that the package had been treated by him and returned to the sender as
originally sealed when he received it.

The committee has arranged fourteen tests, twelve of which had been
violated, and as two or three violations would have been sufficient
evidence of fraud it did not consider more necessary but reported that
it had been established by the evidence that fraud-proof packages
produced no results whereas it found “Spirit extras” in packages which
had been tampered with and that “collectively the result is damning.”

The committee next directed its attention to Mrs. Deane who, because of
“complications from annoying sitters,” had given up private practice at
her residence and was working under engagement with the British College
of Psychic Science. The Principal of the College, Mr. McKenzie, had
vouched for her as being absolutely conscientious and straightforward
in her work and one fully qualified to produce “psychic extras without
resort to trickery.” Mr. Harry Price and Mr. Seymour negotiated for
a private sitting with her. She required that sealed plates should
be sent several days in advance for “magnetization.” Six plates were
exposed at the sitting and on most of them “extras” appeared, but
evidence was obtained that the package had been opened previous to the
sitting and the plates _treated_ but there had been no substitution of

An effort was made to get more convincing evidence and after
considerable difficulty a second sitting was arranged for. This time
the committee went to a manufacturer, whose plates had been mentioned
by the college people as being preferable, and had a special package
made up and sealed. In this package each plate was so marked that
substitution or manipulation were sure to be revealed. It was simply

At the sitting the regular prayer and hymn singing were conducted as
usual after which the plates were exposed and developed. It was found
that the package had been opened previously, the top plate removed
and another substituted for it and on this substituted plate, only,
there was a “Spirit extra.” At a third sitting a fresh box of secretly
marked plates were opened in the presence of Mrs. Deane. Four plates
were loaded into as many separate slides and Mrs. Deane carried them
into the adjoining studio. On a table in the studio was a hand-bag
and beside it a hymn book. The hand in which she held the four slides
momentarily disappeared inside the bag while at the same time she
picked up the hymn book with her other hand. With the hymn book she had
picked up a duplicate slide which, with a perfectly natural movement,
she added to the three in her other hand one of the four marked plates
having been dropped in the bag where it was found later by one of the
investigators who examined the bag while Mrs. Deane was absent for a

Following the customary religious service the four plates were exposed
and then developed. Three plates which had the identifying marks had no
Spirit extra, but the fourth plate which had no identification mark did
have a Spirit form.

As a result of this investigation the committee found that whenever
there was an opportunity packages were opened and treated, plates
substituted, and in the tests which followed “Spirit extras” were
secured, but when the conditions were absolutely fraud-proof there were
no “extras,” and so far as it was able to discover all the so-called
Spirit photography rested on the flimsy foundation of fraud.

In December 1921 I tried to visit Mr. Hope and have some Spirit
photographs made but I was informed that his engagements would keep
him busy for months and that I would have to wait my turn. I then got
in touch with a friend of mine by the name of DeVega[76] who lives in
Glasgow and asked him if he would not see Hope and arrange to sit for a
photograph. After considerable correspondence between DeVega and Hope
the latter agreed to make the photographs provided DeVega would go to
Crewe. DeVega assented to this, and an appointment was made and the
sitting took place. The following account of DeVega’s experience is
taken from a full report which he sent me.

“Dec. 16, 1921.--Arrived at No. 144 Market Street, the door was opened
by an elderly lady. I asked if Mr. Hope was in and presently he came
down. I told him that a well known member of the Spiritualist Society
and a man known to be a collector of Spirit photographs sent me and
that seemed to be sufficient for Mr. Hope.

“I had brought my own camera along and asked him whether the pictures
could be taken with it. However, he said he used his own camera but
would let me investigate it all I wanted to. He told me he could not
possibly photograph me that forenoon as there was another gentleman
coming but arranged for two o’clock.

“I watched Market Street, from a distance, all the forenoon but saw no
one go in. I arrived there promptly but it was 2:30 before Mr. Hope
arrived. A Mrs. Buxton joined us. She, Hope and myself sat around a
small table. They sang hymns, said a prayer and asked the table if all
was favorable.

“At his request I placed my packages of plates on the table. They
placed their hands above them and sang again. Hope suddenly gave a
quiver and said, ‘Now we will try.’ He showed me the dark room, which
is a small arrangement of about six feet high, three feet wide and five
feet long. There were two shelves and on these were dusters, cloths,
bottles of chemicals, a lamp, etc. The lamp is an old affair lit by a
candle. The room is so very small that when two people are in it there
is no room to move about.

“He next showed me the camera and asked me to examine it. I gave a
glance at it and told him I did not doubt his word, which seemed to
please him a great deal. I thought if it was a fake he would not allow
me to examine it as closely as he asked me to. It was an old make, one
fourth plate, studio camera and had no shutter, but worked with a cap
over a lens (the cap was missing). He next showed me the dark slide.
It was an old-fashioned, double wood end slide. I examined it very
closely but it was unprepared.



“The studio itself is a little glass hot-house arrangement built on to
the side of the house. A green curtain is hung at the one end at which
the sitter sits.

“We went again into the dark room to load the plates. He gave me his
slide and told me to leave two of my own dark slides down in front of
the light as he would try my camera too. I opened my plates and placed
two in his dark slide and closed it. It was placed on the under shelf
where I could see it faintly. He then asked me to open my own two
slides slightly and sign my name on them. (I signed J. B. Gilchrist.)
As I signed them he moved the lamp to let me see better. This threw the
one fourth plate in the shadow. After that he handed me the one fourth
plate slide to sign the two plates in the same way.

“_I am sure, although I did not actually see him, that the slide I
loaded, was changed for another one._ It was too dark to see under the
level of the shelf. I, for a moment, considered letting my pencil slip
and spoil the plate and load in another from my packet but I thought
it advisable to let things go on as I would then see just what his
usual procedure was. I wondered at the time _Why I could not have been
told to take the plates from the package, sign them and then place the
plates in the slide and place the slide in my pocket until they were to
be exposed. Why was it necessary to sign my own plates in my dark slide
at all? In fact, there was no necessity for me to take my slide in the
dark room._

“We went back into the studio, again I was asked to examine the camera.
However, I took up my position in front of the camera. Mrs. Buxton
stood at one side and Mr. Hope at the other. The dark focusing cloth
was low over the lens (the cap being missing) and the slide open.
Mrs. Buxton and Hope sang a hymn and each took an end of the cloth,
uncovering the lens. This was repeated with other plates as well.

“Now my camera was set up. I was asked to open the slide and show them
how the shutter worked. The exposure was made. He placed his hand in
front of the camera, covering the lens and asked me to open the slide
myself as he did not want to touch it. _Now why did he close the lens
in that way?_ It would have been simpler to have pushed down the open
front of the slide, closing it, but I believe that on his hand was a
spot of some radiant salt or some such substance that would cause a
bright spot to appear on the negative, such as appeared on that plate
when it was developed. Holding his hand in front of the lens while an
exposure was being made is such an unnatural action that I believe
that was the cause of what he called ‘a Spirit Light,’ when it was
developed. The next photograph I told him to press the release again to
close the shutter. He did so.

“We then adjourned into the dark room to develop the plates. The two,
one fourth plates were placed by me, side by side, in a dish and the
two three and a half by two and a half in another dish and developed.
By pouring the developer from one dish to another, one of the one
quarter plates flashed up dark. I remarked that one was coming up very
quickly and he replied that ‘when they come up like that it is a good
sign for it is very likely there is an “extra” on them.’ I said no more
but in my experience and knowledge of photography, such an occurrence
is impossible unless the plates have been previously exposed.

“_The two plates were taken from the same packet, loaded into the dark
slide at the same time, with the same dark room light and the same
distance from the light. They were then exposed on the same subject
immediately after each other; the same length of exposure being given
(I counted them mentally) with the same aperture of lens. The plates
were then placed side by side in the same dish of developer and I
contend that the image must come up at a uniform speed on both plates
and that it is impossible for one to flash up before the other and
darken all over unless it was previously exposed, especially when there
was no variation in the light when the exposure was made, it being
three P.M., December 16, clear sky, no sunshine._

“An ‘extra’ did appear on this (one fourth plate). It is a clean shaven
face above mine and drapery hanging from it. On my own three and a half
by two and a half a light splotch is over my face. Mrs. Buxton informed
me that it was a ‘Spirit light’ but Mr. Hope believed he saw the faint
features of a face in it.”

While in Denver, Colorado, in May, 1923, I called one morning on Mr.
Alexander Martin, whom Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had told me was a noted
psychic photographer and a very wonderful man in his particular line.
Doyle himself had called on Martin the day before but as Martin did not
feel in the mood there had been no demonstration. In this Sir Arthur
was no more unfortunate than Hyslop, the eminent Psychic investigator,
who, according to Sir Arthur, had made a special journey from England
to Denver in order to have a seance with Martin but had not been

Martin lived about fifteen minutes out of town by taxi. I took with
me my chief assistant, James Collins, so I would have a witness if
anything of a psychic nature occurred. Collins had my camera as I
wanted at least to get a picture of Martin. We found him standing in
the doorway of a rear building and after I introduced myself he seemed
cordial. I showed him some Spirit photographs which I had with me and
after a few minutes talk I asked him if he was willing that Collins
should take a snap-shot at us. He thought I was asking for a sitting
and replied that he did not feel good and besides had been engaged to
take the pictures of the children in two schools. I kept on talking
in my most entertaining manner and before long he invited us into the
house saying he would photograph both of us. Meanwhile Collins had
secured five snap-shots at close range without Martin knowing it.

When we went into the house I walked right into the dark room but
Martin called me saying:

“Now don’t you go in there, just wait a minute.”

While we waited outside Martin spent about eight minutes in the dark
room. Then he came out and we went into his studio, a simple room with
a black background. He had me sit down and placed Collins behind me on
my right. As a test I told Collins to step over to the other side as
it might look better. Then when he had done so I turned to Martin and

“Is that all right or is it better to have him take the original

“I think it would be nicer if he stood where he was in the first
place,” Martin replied.

This led me to think he was keeping that side of the plate clean for
something to appear. There was considerable light in the room and
Martin pulled a dark screen on our right explaining that he did not
need much light for the psychic stuff, then putting a shade on his eyes
he turned to us and said:

“Now keep quiet and I will try and do something.”

When he uncovered the lens I counted the time of the exposure which was
about fifteen seconds. As he covered it again he said to us:


“That is all I can do to-day. Now I must hurry away.”

We thanked him and as we were going out I asked him if he had any
photographs we could see. He went into an adjoining room but closed the
door so we had no opportunity to look in. When he came out he had four
photographs which he allowed me to keep but he would not write on them
who they were of.

The next day I went to see him again and he gave me another seance.
This time he said he would have to cut a plate and he gave me a book
to read while I waited. In looking for a piece of paper on which to
write my address he picked up a lot of newspapers and I noticed some
scientific publications systematically inserted between the leaves
which led me to think he was trying to hide his knowledge and wished to
appear as a simple minded old man who knew but little about photography.

I have not the slightest doubt that Mr. Martin’s Spirit photographs
were simply double exposures. I think his method was to cut out various
pictures, place them on a background and make an exposure. His plates
were then ready for his next sitter, which in the above instance was
myself. Being an expert photographer he might have used the original
wet plate method of making an exposure, developing it, washing the
emulsion off the plate and refinishing it with a new emulsion but I am
convinced that the two Spirit photos which he made of me were simply
double exposures.

The technique of photography does not trouble the psychic operator.
He has no regard for the laws of light or chemistry. The fact that in
all of his pictures the Spirits appear to be perfectly conscious of
posing does not disconcert him, nor is he disturbed because they always
appear as they were in life. How much more interesting it would be and
how much more such photographs would add to our knowledge and aid the
advancement of science if once in a while the Spirits would permit
themselves to be snapped while engaged in some Spiritual occupation.

From a logical, rational point of view, Spirit photography is a most
barefaced imposition and stands as evidence of the credulity of those
who are in sympathy with the superstitions of occultism. It is also
evidence of how unscrupulous mediums become and how calloused their

In this country there is no such organized group of Spirit
photographers as the Crewe photographers in England. Since Mumler’s
narrow escape from deserved punishment and his disappearance there have
been few who had the courage to operate as boldly as he did. The most
conspicuous one practicing at the present time is Dr. (?) W. M. Keeler,
who according to Spiritualistic publications has a nerve and conscience
equal to any psychic undertaking.

With Spirit photography as with all other so-called psychic marvels,
there never has been, nor is now, any proof of genuineness beyond
the claim made by the medium. In each and every case it is a simple
question of veracity, and when the most sincere believers in
Spiritualism unhesitatingly admit, as they do, that all mediums at
times resort to fraud and lying, what dependence can possibly be placed
in any statement they make?

There can be no better evidence of rottenness in the whole structure
than the fact that for upwards of forty years there have been standing
offers of money in amounts ranging from five hundred to five thousand
dollars for a single case of so-called phenomena which could be proven
actually psychic. Knowing the character of mediums as I do I claim if
proof were possible there is not a single medium, including Spirit
photographers, who would not have jumped at the chance to win such
a prize. If there are any who are operating honestly let them come
forward with proof and take the reward.




Spiritualism has claimed among its followers numbers of brilliant
minds--scientists, philosophers, professionals and authors. Whether
these great minds have been misdirected, whether they have followed
the subject because they were convinced fully of its truth, or whether
they have been successfully hoodwinked by some fraudulent medium, are
matters of conjecture and opinion; nevertheless they have been the
means of bringing into the ranks of Spiritualism numbers of those who
allow themselves to be led by minds greater and more powerful than
their own.

Such a one is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His name comes automatically
to the mind of the average human being to-day at the mention of
Spiritualism. No statistician could fathom the influence he has exerted
through his lectures and his writings or number the endless chain
he guides into a belief in communication with the Realm Beyond. His
faith and belief and confidence in the movement have been one of the
greatest assets of present-day believers and whatever one’s views on
the subject, it is impossible not to respect the belief of this great
author who has wholeheartedly and unflinchingly thrown his life and
soul into the conversion of unbelievers. Sir Arthur _believes_. In his
great mind there is _no_ doubt.

He is a brilliant man, a deep thinker, well versed in every respect,
and comes of a gifted family. His grandfather, John Doyle, was born
in Dublin in 1797. He won popularity and fame in London with his
caricatures of prominent people. Many of his original drawings are
now preserved in the museum under the title “H. B. Caricatures.” He
died in 1868. An uncle of Sir Arthur’s was the famous “Dicky Doyle,”
the well-known cartoonist of _Punch_ and designer of the familiar
cover of that magazine. In his later years he became prominent as an
illustrator, making drawings for _The Newcomes_ in 1853, and becoming
especially successful in illustrating such fairy stories as Hunt’s “Jar
of Honey,” Ruskin’s “King of the Golden River,” and Montelbas’ “Fairy
Tales of all Nations.” The fact that he leaned toward Spiritualism is
not generally known. Sir Arthur’s father, Charles A. Doyle, was also an
artist of great talent though not in a commercial way. His home life
is beautiful and Lady Doyle has told me on numerous occasions that he
never loses his temper and that his nature is at all times sunshiny
and sweet. His children are one hundred per cent children in every way
and it is beautiful to note the affection between the father, mother
and the children. He is a great reader who absorbs what he reads
but he believes what he sees in print _only_ if it is favorable to

The friendship of Sir Arthur and myself dates back to the time
when I was playing the Brighton Hippodrome, Brighton, England. We
had been corresponding and had discussed through the medium of the
mail, questions regarding Spiritualism. He invited Mrs. Houdini and
myself to the Doyle home in Crowborough, England, and in that way an
acquaintanceship was begun which has continued ever since. Honest
friendship is one of life’s most precious treasures and I pride myself
in thinking that we have held that treasure sacred in every respect.
During all these years we have exchanged clippings which we thought
might be of mutual interest and on a number of occasions have had an
opportunity to discuss them in person. Our degree of friendship may be
judged best from the following letter of Sir Arthur’s.

                                   “15 Buckingham Palace Mansion,
                                     S. W. 1
                                   “March 8, 1923.

“My dear Houdini:--

    For goodness’ sake take care of those dangerous stunts of
    yours. You have done enough of them. I speak because I have
    just read of the death of the “Human Fly.”[77] Is it worth it?

                                   “Yours very sincerely,
        (Signed)                                 A. CONAN DOYLE.”

It would be difficult to determine just when Sir Arthur and I first
discussed Spiritualism, but from that talk to the present we have
never agreed upon it. Our viewpoints differ; we do not believe the
same thing. I know that he treats Spiritualism as a religion. He
believes that it is possible and that he can communicate with the dead.
According to his marvellous analytical brain he has had proof positive
of this. There is no doubt that Sir Arthur is sincere in his belief
and it is this sincerity which has been one of the fundamentals of
our friendship. I have respected everything he has said and _I have
always been unbiased_, because at no time have I refused to follow
the subject with an open mind. I cannot say the same for him for he
has refused to discuss the matter in any other voice except that of
Spiritualism and in all our talks quoted only those who favored it
in every way, and if one does not follow him sheep-like during his
investigations then he is blotted out forever so far as Sir Arthur
is concerned. Unfortunately he uses the reasoning, so common among
Spiritualists, that no matter how often mediums are caught cheating he
believes the only reason for it is that they have overstepped their
bounds and resorted to trickery in an effort to convince. I wonder if
some day Sir Arthur will forget that he is a Spiritualist and argue a
case of trickery with the sound logic of an outsider. I firmly believe
that if he ever does he will see and acknowledge some of his errors.
I am ready to believe in Sir Arthur’s teachings if he can convince me
beyond the shadow of a doubt that his demonstrations are genuine.

There is no doubt in my mind, Sir Arthur believes implicitly in the
mediums with whom he has convened and he knows positively, in his own
mind, they are all genuine. Even if they are caught cheating he always
has some sort of an alibi which excuses the medium and the deed. He
insists that the Fox Sisters were genuine, even though both Margaret
and Katie confessed to fraud and explained how and why they became
mediums and the methods used by them to produce the raps.

“Like Cæsar’s wife--always above suspicion,” Hope and Mrs. Dean
pass in his category as genuine mediums. He has often told me that
Palladino[78] and Home some day would be canonized for the great work
they did in the interest of Spiritualism, even though they were both
exposed time and time again. In all gravity he would say to me, “Look
what they did to Joan of Arc.” To Sir Arthur it is a matter of most
sacred moment. It is his religion, and he would invariably tell me
what a cool observer he was and how hard it would be to fool him, or
in any way deceive him.[79] He told me that he did not believe any of
“the nice old lady mediums” would do anything wrong and it was just as
unlikely for some old gentleman, innocent as a child unborn, to resort
to trickery. But there comes to my mind the notorious Mrs. Catherine
Nicol and her two daughters who were continuously getting in and out
of the law’s net, usually breaking the heads of a few detectives in
the process. Among the “nice old lady” mediums might be mentioned a
prominent medium of Boston who was accused of taking unlawfully from
one of her believers over eight thousand dollars in cash.

Another case was that of a medium who received $1,000 from a man in
Baltimore for the privilege of a few minutes’ chat with the Spirit of
his dead wife. He later sued her for fraud. Later she was exposed while
giving a seance in Paris, but after a few years she appeared in New
York City.

At this time Asst. District Attorney Krotel asked that she be brought
into court to answer to a charge of selling California mining stock to
her followers through the advice of certain disembodied Spirits. The
stock was found to be worthless.

There was also a woman, who was arrested and convicted for vagrancy
in Seattle and numerous other cases, such as that of Katie King of
Philadelphia in 1875; however, no matter how many cases I cited, it did
not seem to make any impression on Sir Arthur.

I had known for some time that a number of people wanted to draw Doyle
into a controversy. When I saw Sir Arthur I told him to be careful
of his statements and explained a number of pitfalls he could avoid.
Nevertheless, despite my warnings, he would say: “That’s all right,
Houdini, don’t worry about me, I am well able to take care of myself.
They cannot fool me.” To which I would reply he had no idea of the
subtleness of some of the people who were trying to draw his fire.

When I called Sir Arthur’s attention to the number of people who have
gone crazy on the subject because of persistent reading, continuous
attendance at seances and trying automatic writing, his answer would
be: “People have been going mad[80] for years, and you will find on
investigation that many go mad on other subjects besides Spiritualism.”
On being reminded that most of these people hear voices and see
visions, he denied that they were hallucinations, and insisted that he
had spoken to different members of his family.[81]

I recall several flagrant instances in which Sir Arthur’s faith has,
I think, misguided him. One particular time was when he attended a
public seance by a lady known as “The Medium in the Mask.” Among those
present at the time was Lady Glenconner, Sir Henry Lunn and Mr. Sidney
A. Mosley, a special representative of a newspaper.

According to reports, the medium wore a veil like a “yashmak.” She
appeared very nervous. A number of articles, including a ring that
had belonged to Sir Arthur’s deceased son, were put in a box, and the
medium correctly gave the initials on the ring, although Sir Arthur
said that they could hardly be discerned, even in a good light, they
were so worn off.[82]

Later in describing another article, the medium said the words,
“Murphy” and “button” and it was afterwards explained that “Murphy’s
button” was a surgical operation term. She said that the person
described would die as a result of the operation. Unfortunately, for
the medium, no one present knew of such a case and yet, _Sir Arthur
described this seance as very clever_.[83]

The “Masked Lady” was sponsored by a theatrical agent and illusionist
and all proceedings of the seances were brought to light in a suit
against Mr. George Grossman and Mr. Edward Laurillard, theatrical
producers, to recover damages for breach of agreement to place a West
End theatre at his disposal.

Accounts of mediums by the name of “Thompson” have misled several
people. There is a Thompson of New York and a Thomson of Chicago. Sir
Arthur had a seance with the Thompsons of New York and according to
all the news clippings I have had they claimed to have brought back
his mother. In fact it was stated that he asked permission to kiss his
mother’s hand.

The Thomsons got into trouble in Chicago and New Orleans also.[84]
As a matter of fact I was in Chicago when their trial took place. I
had been present at two of their seances. The first was in New York
at the Morosco Theatre and I had all I could do to keep J. F. Rinns
from breaking up the performance. The second was in Chicago. It was
a special seance given after my performance at the Palace Theatre. I
was accompanied by H. H. Windsor, Publisher and Editor of _Popular
Mechanics_; Oliver R. Barrett, a prominent member of the bar; Mr.
Husband Manning, author; and Leonard Hicks, a well-known hotel
proprietor. Among others present at the seance were Cyrus McCormick,
Jr., Muriel McCormick, and Mrs. McCormick McClintock. We witnessed a
number of unsatisfactory phenomena and afterwards adjourned to the home
of Cyrus McCormick and discussed the seance, being unanimously of the
opinion that it was a glaring fraud just as I had believed the one in
New York to be.

At the Morosco Theatre, New York City, the Thomsons made the broad
statement that they had been tested by Stead and Sir Oliver Lodge and
at a special seance he had come out and publicly endorsed Mrs. Thomson
as being genuine. The following letter not only disproves this but
explains the feeling of an active Spiritualist toward the Thomsons.


                                        “7th January 1921.

    “Dear Mr. Houdini:--

    “It is a pleasure to hear from you, and I thank you for asking
    the question about the Thomsons. I have replied to one or two
    other queries of the same kind, but I would be grateful if you
    would make it known that any statement that I have vouched for
    their genuineness, is absolutely false.

    “I only saw them once, at a time when they called themselves
    Tomson. It was at Mr. Stead’s house, at his urgent request.
    I considered the performance fraudulent, but the proof was
    not absolutely complete because the concluding search was not
    allowed, and the gathering dispersed in disorder, or at least
    with some heat.

    “I felt sorry at this termination, and it is just possible that
    Thomson genuinely thought I was favourably impressed. That is
    the charitable view to take, but it is not the true view, and
    Mr. Stead was annoyed with me because of my skeptical attitude.
    (He has since admitted to me, from the other side, that he was
    wrong and I was right; bringing the subject up spontaneously.
    This latter statement, however, is not evidence.)

    “What I should like the public to be assured of, is that I was
    _not_ favourably impressed, and never vouched for them in any

    “I am afraid I must assume that Thomson is aware of that, and
    therefore is not acting in good faith, because once in England
    the same sort of statement was made, either at Leicester or at
    Nottingham I think, and I wrote to a paper to contradict it.

    “With all good wishes believe me,

                                      “Faithfully yours,
        (Signed)                                  “OLIVER LODGE.”

Sir Arthur personally told me that he was convinced of the genuineness
of the Welsh miners of Cardiff, or Thomas Brothers. Stuart Cumberland
who was infinitely my superior in investigation (he had a start of 20
years) told me that there wasn’t a chance of the Thomas Brothers being
genuine, and related how, owing to the great interest of Sir Arthur
in them, the _London Daily Express_ eventually induced them to hold a
seance before a committee of investigators. Cumberland was to have been
one of the committee, but the mediums refused to allow him to be “Among
those present.” As they refused to proceed if Cumberland was admitted,
it was thought advisable to eliminate him. Before leaving, Cumberland
arranged the musical instruments that were used and instructed the
investigating committee how to detect fraud. The feature of the
seance was the passing along in the circle, of a button and a pair of
suspenders, which were thrown on the knees of a news Editor present.
I ask the common-sense reader what benefit this would be--to project
a button clear across the room and to find a pair of suspenders on a
sitter’s knee? If there is any object lesson in this, please let me

At the seance, Lady Doyle was asked whether she was cold, on answering
in the affirmative a holland jacket which had been worn by the medium
was dropped in her lap. The Thomas Brothers claimed this had been done
by the Spirits. When the seance was over, the medium was found bound
but minus his coat.

When I quizzed Sir Arthur about the manner in which the Thomas Brothers
of Cardiff were bound during a seance which he attended, he told me
that they were secured so tightly that it was impossible for them to
move as they were absolutely helpless. I told him that did not make it
genuine, for any number of mediums had been tied the same way and had
managed to free themselves. He replied that I might be able to release
myself by natural means, but that mediums do not have to, as they
always receive Spiritual help. Maybe so, but I should like, sometime,
to tie them myself and see whether the Spirits could release them under
test conditions.[85]

I reminded Sir Arthur of the Davenport Brothers and called to his
attention the fact that they were able to release themselves. Sir
Arthur feels very strongly in the matter of the Davenport Brothers and
although I have told him and proven to him that I was a pupil of Ira
Erastus Davenport[86] and that Ira personally told me that they did not
claim to be Spiritualists and their performances were not given in the
name of Spiritualism, Sir Arthur insists that they _were_ Spiritualists
and has strongly said that if they did their performances under any
other name, then Ira was “not only a liar, but a blasphemer as he
went around with Mr. Ferguson, a clergyman, and mixed it all up with

I want to go on record that to the best of my knowledge and belief I
never stated that Sir Arthur endorsed the mediumship of the New York
Thompsons. I did say there were full page articles[87] where he was
illustrated as accepting the genuineness of the materialization of his
mother. I never claimed that Sir Arthur’s son or brother came through
the Thomas mediums in Cardiff. I did state that Sir Arthur said they
were genuine and that they, the mediums, were helpless to move because
he had tied them and in his judgment if they were tied in my presence
I would be convinced of their genuineness. I wish to call attention
to the fact that in a letter written by the late Stuart Cumberland he
agreed with me that there was not a vestige of truth in the mediumship
of the Thomas Brothers, and regarding Sir Arthur’s endorsement of the
“Masked Lady,” I did not say he endorsed her although I should judge
from newspaper[88] accounts he seemed very much impressed.

Sir Arthur has rarely given me an opportunity to deny or affirm any
statement. In fact one of our sore points of discussion has been the
matter of being quoted, or misquoted,[89] in newspapers or periodicals
and it seems that Sir Arthur always believes everything I have been
quoted as having said. When I was in Oakland, California, I was
interviewed by a Mr. Henderson of the _Oakland Tribune_. I gave him
some material to work on, enough for one article from which, to my
surprise, he wrote a series of eight articles enlarging and misquoting
to an “nth” degree. Sir Arthur took exception to a number of statements
which I was supposed to have made and he replied to them caustically
through the press and then sent me the following letter in explanation.

                              “THE AMBASSADOR
                                “Los Angeles

                                                  “May 23, 1923.

    “My dear Houdini:--

    “I have had to handle you a little roughly in the _Oakland
    Tribune_ because they send me a long screed under quotation
    marks, so it is surely accurate. It is so full of errors that
    I don’t know where to begin. I can’t imagine why you say such
    wild things which have no basis in fact at all. I put the
    Thompsons down as humbugs. I never heard of my son or brother
    through the Thomas brothers. They were never exposed. I never
    said that Masked Medium was genuine. I wish you would refer
    to me before publishing such injurious stuff which I have to
    utterly contradict. I would always tell you the exact facts as
    I have done with the Zancigs.

                                   “Yours sincerely,
                                             “A. Conan Doyle.”

    “I hate sparring with a friend in public, but what can I do
    when you say things which are not correct, and which I have to
    contradict or else they go by default. It is the same with all
    this ridiculous stuff of Rinn’s. Unless I disprove it, people
    imagine it is true.

                                                       “A. C. D.”

At the written invitation of Sir Arthur and Lady Doyle Mrs. Houdini
and I visited them while they were stopping at the Ambassador Hotel in
Atlantic City. One day as Sir Arthur, Mrs. Houdini and I were sitting
on the sand skylarking with the children Sir Arthur excused himself
saying that he was going to have his usual afternoon nap. He left us
but returned in a short time and said “Houdini, if agreeable, Lady
Doyle will give you a special seance, as she has a feeling that she
might have a message come through. At any rate, she is willing to try,”
and turning to Mrs. Houdini he said, “we would like to be alone. You
do not mind if we make the experiment without you.” Smilingly, my good
little wife said, “Certainly not, go right ahead, Sir Arthur; I will
leave Houdini in your charge and I know that he will be willing to go
to the seance.” Doyle said, “You understand, Mrs. Houdini, that this
will be a test to see whether we can make any Spirit come through for
Houdini, and conditions may prove better if no other force is present.”

Before leaving with Sir Arthur, Mrs. Houdini cued me. We did a second
sight or mental performance years ago and still use a system or code
whereby we can speak to each other in the presence of others, even
though to all outward appearances we are merely talking, pointing
or doing the most innocent looking things, but which have different
meanings to us.

In that manner Mrs. Houdini told me that on the night previous she had
gone into detail with Lady Doyle about the great love I bear for my
Mother. She related to her a number of instances, such as, my returning
home from long trips, sometimes as far away as Australia, and spending
months with my Mother and wearing only the clothes that she had given
me, because I thought it would please her and give her some happiness.
My wife also remarked about my habit of laying my head on my Mother’s
breast, in order to hear her heart beat. Just little peculiarities that
mean so much to a mother and son when they love one another as we did.

I walked with Sir Arthur to the Doyles’ suite. Sir Arthur drew down the
shades so as to exclude the bright light. We three, Lady Doyle, Sir
Arthur and I, sat around the table on which were a number of pencils
and a writing pad, placing our hands on the surface of the table.

Sir Arthur started the seance with a devout prayer. I had made up my
mind that I would be as religious as it was within my power to be and
not at any time did I scoff at the ceremony. I excluded all earthly
thoughts and gave my whole soul to the seance.

I was _willing_ to believe, even _wanted_ to believe. It was weird to
me and with a beating heart I waited, hoping that I might feel once
more the presence of my beloved Mother. If there ever was a son who
idolized and worshipped his Mother, whose every thought was for her
happiness and comfort, that son was myself. My Mother meant my life,
her happiness was synonymous with my peace of mind. For that reason,
if no other, I wanted to give my very deepest attention to what was
going on. It meant to me an easing of all pain that I had in my heart.
I especially wanted to speak to my Mother, because that day, _June 17_,
1922, was her birthday.[90] I was determined to embrace Spiritualism
if there was any evidence strong enough to down the doubts that have
crowded my brain for the past thirty years.

Presently, Lady Doyle was “seized by a Spirit.” Her hands shook and
beat the table, her voice trembled and she called to the Spirits
to give her a message. Sir Arthur tried to quiet her, asked her to
restrain herself, but her hand thumped on the table, her whole body
shook and at last, making a cross at the head of the page, started
writing. And as she finished each page, Sir Arthur tore the sheet off
and handed it to me. I sat serene through it all, hoping and wishing
that I might feel my mother’s presence. There wasn’t even a semblance
of it. Everyone who has ever had a worshipping Mother and has lost
earthly touch, knows the feeling which will come over him at the
thought of sensing her presence.

The letter which follows, purported to have come from my Mother, I
cannot, as much as I desire, accept as having been written or inspired
by the soul or Spirit of my sweet Mother.

“Oh, my darling, thank God, thank God, at last I’m through--I’ve
tried, oh, so often--now I am happy. Why, of course I want to talk to
my boy--my own beloved boy--Friends, thank you, with all my heart for

“You have answered the cry of my heart--and of his--God bless him--a
thousandfold for all his life for me--never had a Mother such a
son--tell him not to grieve--soon he’ll get all the evidence he is so
anxious for--Yes we know--tell him I want him to try and write in his
own home. It will be far better.”

“I will work with him--he is so, so dear to me--I am preparing so sweet
a home for him in which some day in God’s good time he will come to it,
is one of my great joys preparing for our future.”

“I am so happy in this life--it is so full and joyous--my only shadow
has been that my beloved one hasn’t known how often I have been
with him all the while, all the while--here away from my heart’s
darling--combining my work thus in this life of mine.”

“It is so different over here, so much larger and bigger and more
beautiful--so lofty--all sweetness around one--nothing that hurts
and we see our beloved ones on earth--that is such a joy and comfort
to us--Tell him I love him more than ever--the years only increase
it--and his goodness fills my soul with gladness and thankfulness.
Oh, just this, it _is_ me. I want him only to know that--that--I have
bridged the gulf--that is what I wanted, oh, so much--Now I can rest in
peace--how soon--”

“I _always_ read my beloved son’s mind--his dear mind--there is so
much I want to say to him--but--I am almost overwhelmed by this joy of
talking to him once more--it is almost too much to get through--the
joy of it--thank you, thank you, friend, with all my heart for what you
have done for me this day--God bless you, too, Sir Arthur, for what you
are doing for us--for us, over here--who so need to get in touch with
our beloved ones on the earth plane--”

“If only the world knew this great truth--how different life would
be for men and women--Go on let nothing stop you--great will be your
reward hereafter--Good-by--I brought you, Sir Arthur, and my son
together--I felt you were the only man who might help us to pierce this
veil--and I was right--Bless him, bless him, bless him, I say, from the
depths of my soul--he fills my heart and later we shall be together--Oh
so happy--a happiness awaits him that he has never dreamed of--tell him
I am with him--just tell him that I’ll soon make him know how close I
am all the while--his eyes will soon be opened--Good-by again--God’s
blessing on you all.”

In the case of my seance, Sir Arthur believed that due to the great
excitement it was a direct connection.

The more so do I hesitate to believe and accept the above letter
because, although my sainted mother had been in America for almost
fifty years, she could not speak, read nor write English but
Spiritualists claim that when a medium is possessed by a Spirit who
does not speak the language, she automatically writes, speaks or sings
in the language of the deceased; however, Sir Arthur has told me that
a Spirit becomes more educated the longer it is departed and that my
blessed Mother had been able to master the English language in Heaven.

After the purported letter from my Mother had been written and I had
read it over very carefully, Sir Arthur advised me to follow out the
advice, given by my Mother,--to try to write when I reached home.

I picked up a pencil in a haphazard manner and said, “Is there any
particular way in which I must hold this pencil when I want to write,
or does it write automatically?” _I then wrote the name of “Powell”
entirely of my own volition._ Sir Arthur jumped up excitedly and read
what I had just written. He saw the word “Powell” and said, “The
Spirits have directed you in writing the name of my dear fighting
partner in Spiritualism, Dr. Ellis Powell, who has just died in
England. I am the person he is most likely to signal to, and here is
his name coming through your hands. Truly Saul is among the Prophets.”

I must emphatically state that this name was written entirely of my
own volition and in full consciousness. I had in my mind, my friend
Frederick Eugene Powell, the American Magician, with whom at the time
I was having a great deal of correspondence regarding a business
proposition which has since been consummated. There is not the
slightest doubt of it having been more than a deliberate mystification
on my part, or let us say a kindlier word regarding my thoughts and
call it “coincidence.”

A few days later Sir Arthur sent me the following letter in reference
to my explanation of the writing of the name, “Powell.”

                                                  “The Ambassador,
                                                    New York,
                                                  June 20th, 1922.

    “My dear Houdini:--

    “... No, the Powell explanation, won’t do. Not only is he the
    one man who would wish to get me, but in the evening, Mrs. M.,
    the lady medium, got, “there is a man here. He wants to say
    that he is sorry he had to speak so abruptly this afternoon.”
    The message was then broken by your Mother’s renewed message
    and so we got no name. But it confirms me in the belief that
    it was Powell. However, you will no doubt test your powers

        (Signed)                                  “A. Conan Doyle.”

I had written an article for the _New York Sun_, October 30, 1922,
which gave my views in reference to Spiritualism and at the same time
answered the challenge offered by the General Assembly of Spiritualists
of New York State. This had been called to the attention of Sir Arthur,
who wrote as follows:


                                             November 19, 1922.

    “My dear Houdini:--

    “They sent me the _New York Sun_ with your article and no doubt
    wanted me to answer it, but I have no fancy for sparring with a
    friend in public, so I took no notice.

    “But none the less, I felt rather sore about it. You have all
    the right in the world to hold your own opinion, but when you
    say that you have had no evidence of survival, you say what I
    cannot reconcile with what I saw with my own eyes. I know, by
    many examples, the purity of my wife’s mediumship, and I saw
    what you got and what the effect was upon you at the time.
    You know also you yourself at once wrote down, with your own
    hand, the name of Powell, the one man who might be expected to
    communicate with me. Unless you were joking when you said that
    you did not know of this Powell’s death, then surely that was
    evidential, since the idea that out of all your friends you
    had chanced to write the name of one who exactly corresponded,
    would surely be too wonderful a coincidence.

    “However, I don’t propose to discuss this subject any more with
    you, for I consider that you have had your proofs and that the
    responsibility of accepting or rejecting is with you. As it
    _is_ a very real lasting responsibility. However, I have it at
    last, for I have done my best to give you the truth. I will,
    however, send you my little book, on the fraud perpetrated upon
    Hope, but that will be my last word on the subject. Meanwhile,
    there are lots of other subjects on which we can all meet in
    friendly converse.

                                   “Yours very sincerely,
                                   (Signed) “A. Conan Doyle.”

To which I replied:--

                                             “December 15, 1922.

  “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,

  “My dear Sir Arthur:--

    “Received your letter regarding my article in the _New York
    Sun_. You write that you are very sore. I trust that it is not
    with me, because you, having been truthful and manly all your
    life, naturally must admire the same traits in other human

    “I know you are honorable and sincere and think I owe you an
    explanation regarding the letter I received through the hands
    of Lady Doyle.

    “I was heartily in accord and sympathy at that seance but the
    letter was written entirely in English and my sainted Mother
    could not read, write or speak the English language. I did not
    care to discuss it at the time because of my emotion in trying
    to sense the presence of my Mother, if there was such a thing
    possible, to keep me quiet until time passed, and I could give
    it the proper deduction.

    “Regarding my having written the name ‘Powell.’ Frederick
    Eugene Powell is a very dear friend of mine. He had just
    passed through two serious operations. Furthermore Mrs.
    Powell had a paralytic stroke at that time. I was having some
    business dealings with him which entailed a great deal of
    correspondence; therefore, naturally, his name was uppermost
    in my mind and I cannot make myself believe that my hand was
    guided by your friend. It was just a coincidence.

    “I trust my clearing up of the seance, from my point of view
    is satisfactory, and that you do not harbor any ill feelings,
    because I hold both Lady Doyle and yourself in the highest
    esteem. I know you treat this as a religion but personally I
    cannot do so, for up to the present time I have never seen or
    heard anything that could convert me.

    “Trusting you will accept my letter in the same honest, good
    faith feeling as it has been written.

    “With best wishes to Lady Doyle, yourself and the family, in
    which Mrs. Houdini joins,

                                   “Sincerely yours,
                                       (Signed)  “Houdini.”

In January 1923, the _Scientific American_ issued a challenge of
$2500. to the first person to produce a psychic photograph under test
conditions. An additional $2500. was offered to the first person who,
under the test conditions, defined, and to the satisfaction of the
judges named, produced an objective psychic manifestation of physical
character as defined, and of such sort that permanent instrumental
record may be made of its occurrence.

The committee named were: Dr. William McDougall, D.Sc., Professor of
Psychology at Harvard; Daniel Frisk Comstock, Ph.D., former member
of the Faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Walter
Franklin Prince, Ph.D., Principal Research Officer for the S. P. R.;
Hereward Carrington, Ph.D., Psychic Investigator; J. Malcolm Bird,
Member of the Scientific American Staff; and myself.[91]

Sir Arthur’s letter is self-explanatory.

                                   “January 1, 1923.

    “My dear Houdini:

    “... I see that you are on the Scientific American Committee,
    but how can it be called an Impartial Committee when you
    have committed yourself to such statements as that some
    Spiritualists pass away before they realize how they have
    been deluded, etc? You have every possible right to hold
    such an opinion, but you can’t sit on an Impartial Committee
    afterwards. It becomes biased at once. What I wanted was five
    good clear-headed men who can push to it without any prejudice
    at all, like the Dialectical Society[92] of London, who
    unanimously endorsed the phenomena.

    “Once more all greetings,

                                   (Signed)  “A. CONAN DOYLE.”

On May 21, 22 and 24 the _Scientific American_ held their first test
seances. The permanent sitters were Mr. Walker, Mr. Lescurboura, Mr. J.
Malcolm Bird of the Editorial staff of the _Scientific American_, Mr.
Owen of the _Times_, Mr. Granville Lehrmann of the American Telephone
and Telegraph and Richard I. Worrell, _a friend_ of the medium. Drs.
Carrington and Prince of the Committee of Judges sat on Monday. Dr.
Prince and myself on Thursday. On Tuesday the Committee was represented
by Mr. Frederick Keating, conjuror.

The medium, a man by the name of George Valentine of Wilkes-Barre,
Penn., claimed to be genuine. He was trapped by being seated on a chair
which was so arranged that when he arose an electric light arrangement
was fixed in the room adjoining, together with dictographs and a
phosphorous button. In the estimation of the Committee, Mr. Valentine
was just a common, ordinary trickster.

Lady Doyle, Miss Juliet Karcher, Mrs. Houdini, Sir Arthur and I were
lunching at the Royal Automobile Club in London, May 11, 1920, and Sir
Arthur called attention to the fact that a few days previously they had
been sitting at the same table with a powerful medium, and he told me
in a very serious tone, which was corroborated by Lady Doyle, that the
table started to move all around the place to the astonishment of the
waiter, who was not aware of the close proximity of the medium.

All the time he was relating it, I watched him closely and saw that
both he and Lady Doyle were most sincere and believed what they had
told me to be an actual fact.

There are times when I almost doubt the sincerity of some of Sir
Arthur’s _statements_, even though I do not doubt the sincerity of his

I have been over a number of letters which I have received from Sir
Arthur during the last few years and selected the following excerpts
which show his viewpoint regarding many of the matters we have

“I do not wonder that they put you down as an occult. As I read the
accounts I do not see how you do it. You must be a brave man as well as
exceptionally dexterous.”

“How you get out of the diving suits beats me, but the whole thing
beats me completely.”

“I spoke of the Davenport Brothers. Your word on the matter knowing, as
you do both the man and the possibilities of his art, would be final.”

“You are to me a perpetual mystery. No doubt you are to everyone.”

“In a fair light I saw my dead Mother as clearly as I ever saw her
in life. I am a cool observer and I do not make mistakes. It was
wonderful--but it taught me nothing I did not know before.”

“Our best remembrances to your wife and yourself. For God’s sake be
careful in those fearsome feats of yours. You ought to be able to
retire now.”

“These clairvoyants whose names I have given you are passive agents
in themselves and powerless. If left to themselves they guess and
muddle--as they sometimes do, when the true connection is formed,
all is clear. That connection depends on the forces beyond, which
are repelled by frivolity or curiosity but act under the impulse of

“I see that you know a great deal about the negative side of

“If you think of a lost friend before going to a seance and breathe
a prayer that you may be allowed to get in touch you will have a
chance--otherwise none. It really does depend upon psychic or mental
vibrations and harmonies.”

“I fear there is much fraud among American mediums where Spiritualism
seems to have deservedly fallen into disrepute. Even when genuine it is
used for stock exchange, and other base worldly purposes. No wonder it
has sunk low in the very land that was honored by the first Spiritual
manifestations of the series.”

“You certainly have very wonderful powers, whether inborn or acquired.”

“I envy you the privilege of having met Ira Davenport.”

“Most of our great mediums at present are unpaid amateurs, inaccessible
to any but Spiritualists.”

“Something _must_ come your way if you really persevere and get it out
of your mind that you should follow it as a terrier follows a rat.”

“Mental harmony does not in the least abrogate common sense.”

“I heard of your remarkable feat in Bristol. My dear chap, why do you
go around the world seeking a demonstration of the occult when you are
giving one all the time?”

“I _know_ Hope to be a true psychic and will give you my reasons when
I treat it, but you can give no man a blank check for honesty on every
particular occasion, whether there is a temptation to hedge when
psychic power runs low is a question to be considered. I am for an
uncompromising honesty--but also for thorough examination based on true

“I am amused by your investigation with the Society for Psychical
Research. Have they never thought of investigating you?”

“It was good of you to give those poor invalids a show and you will
find yourself in the third sphere alright with your dear wife, world
without end, whatever you may believe.”

“Incredulity seems to me to be a sort of insanity under the
circumstances.” This was in reference to some photographs of ectoplasm
which I questioned.

“This talk of ‘fake’ is in most cases nonsense and shows our own
imperfect knowledge of conditions and of the ways of Controls, who
often take short cuts to their ends, having no regard at all to our
critical idea.”

“Our opponents talk of one failure and omit a great series of
successes. However, truth wins and there is lots of time.”

“I never let a pressman (newspaper man) get away with it with impunity
if I can help it.”[93]

“Our relations are certainly curious and likely to become more so, for
as long as you attack what _I know_ from experience to be true I have
no alternative but to attack you in turn. How long a private friendship
can survive such an ordeal I do not know, but at least I did not create
the situation.”

“You have a reputation among Spiritualists of being a bitterly
prejudiced enemy who would make trouble if it were possible--I know
this is not so.”

On page 150 of Sir Arthur’s book “Our American Adventure” he says:

“Houdini is not one of those shallow men who imagine they can explain
away Spiritual phenomena as parlor tricks, but he retains an open--and
ever, I think, a more receptive--mind toward mysteries which are beyond
his art. He understands, I hope, that to get truth in the matter
you have not to sit as a Sanhedrim of Judgement, like the Circle of
Conjurors in London, since Spiritual truth does not come as a culprit
to a bar, but you must submit in a humble spirit to psychic conditions
and so go forth, making most progress when on your knees.”

Sir Arthur has told me time and time again that his whole life is
based upon the subject of Spiritualism and that he has sacrificed some
of the best years of his life to the betterment and spread of the
cause, which, due to his sincerity, is a beautiful faith.[94] But in
my opinion it is no “sacrifice” to convince people who have recently
suffered a bereavement of the possibility and reality of communicating
with their dear ones. To me the poor suffering followers eagerly
searching for relief from the heart-pain that follows the passing on of
a dear one are the “sacrifice.”

Sir Arthur thinks that I have great mediumistic powers and that
some of my feats are done with the aid of spirits. Everything I do
is accomplished by material means, humanly possible, no matter how
baffling it is to the layman. He says that I do not enter a seance in
the right frame of mind, that I should be more submissive, but in all
the seances I have attended I have never had a feeling of antagonism.
I have no desire to discredit Spiritualism; I have no warfare with
Sir Arthur; I have no fight with the Spiritists; but I do believe it
is my duty, for the betterment of humanity, to place frankly before
the public the results of my long investigation of Spiritualism.
I am willing to be convinced; my mind is open, but the proof must
be such as to leave no vestige of doubt that what is claimed to be
done is accomplished only through or by supernatural power. So far I
have never on any occasion, in all the seances I have attended, seen
anything which would lead me to credit a mediumistic performance with
supernatural aid, nor have I ever seen anything which has convinced me
that it is possible to communicate with those who have passed out of
this life. Therefore I do not agree with Sir Arthur.



Years have passed since my first meeting with the Hon. Everard
Feilding! Many times during those years I have discussed Spiritualism
with him and no one has ever been more interested than he in the
results of my investigations and study of it and it was through his
help that I was able to investigate personally the famous Eva Carriere,
better known perhaps as Mlle. Eva.

One evening in the spring of 1920 during a quiet dinner at his
home in London the conversation drifted toward Ectoplasm. I told
Mr. and Mrs.[95] Feilding about attending a Sunday meeting of the
London Psychical College through the courtesy of Hewat McKenzie. At
this meeting Mme. Bisson and Mlle. Eva were introduced by Fornieur
d’Albe and Mme. Bisson while delivering an impromptu talk seized the
opportunity to resent the attack of a French magician and to explain in
unmistakable tones her antagonism toward prestidigitators.

Mr. Feilding assured me I was correct about her antipathy towards
magicians and suggested that the only way I could ever hope to attend
one of her seances was to convince the medium that I was not one of the
biased prestidigitator class, and proposed as a means to attain this
end a theatre party to see my performance and thus enable Mme. Bisson
and Mlle. Eva to judge for themselves. This was arranged and the night
they came to the theatre to see me I did the Torture Cell Mystery, in
which I am completely submerged, head foremost, in a tank of water,
and it is a physical impossibility to obtain air while locked in the
device. They were so much mystified that they expressed a desire to
attend another performance of mine sometime in the near future. I had
just accepted a challenge to escape from a packing case which was to be
built on the stage by experienced carpenters and thinking that it would
be an interesting performance for Mme. Bisson to witness I extended her
an invitation and received the following letter in reply.

                                                  “May 19, 1920.

    “Dear Mr. Houdini:

    “We, Mlle. Eva and I, shall be charmed to see you at the
    performance of which you have spoken to me, on next Wednesday.
    Since you have had the great kindness to offer us several
    tickets, it gives me great pleasure to accept, and if you wish,
    you may send us four, as we expect to join in the applause with
    Mr. and Mrs. Feilding.

    “I also wish to tell you something else!

    “You know that we give seances here, showing the phenomena
    of materialization. These are not spirit studies. They are

    “It would interest Mr. Feilding and ourselves to have at
    our seances a master in the art of prestidigitation, but
    I have always refused to admit to my house, an ordinary
    prestidigitator, or even one of better rank. Our work is
    serious and real, and the gift of Mlle. Eva might disappear
    forever, if some awkward individual insists on thinking there
    is fraud involved, instead of real and interesting facts, which
    especially interest the scientific.

    “For you this does not hold! You are above all this. You are a
    magnificent actor, who can not call himself a prestidigitator,
    a title beneath a man of your talent.

    “I shall therefore, (rather we shall) be proud to see you
    attend our seances and hear you tell us all, after you have
    been thoroughly convinced yourself, that their merit is far
    beneath your own, for these manifestations depend merely upon
    allowing the forces of nature to act, and lie simply in truth
    of fact. Whereas with you, it is your merit, your talent, and
    your personal valor that have enabled you to attain the place
    of King in your art.

    “With kind and esteemed regards to Mme. Houdini and yourself,

                                   (Signed)  Juliette Bisson.”

When I showed this letter to Mr. Feilding he was both surprised and
pleased for it gave him an opportunity to invite me to become one of
the Committee which was to investigate Mme. Bisson and Mlle. Eva’s
seances to be held by the Society for Psychical Research, and so at the
combined invitations of the mediums and Mr. Feilding I attended eight.
Each of them lasted three hours and I firmly believe that a description
of them and their results is important.

At these seances my word was pledged to give full and sacred thoughts
and I tried to control my thoughts so that my whole attention could
be given to the medium. There was no scoffing and there was the will
to believe. I felt that if anything was manifested by the Spirits my
conscience would be clear. However, I sat with my eyes open, taking
in even the most minute details and keeping on my guard against any
trickery. A number of times I occupied a “control” chair at the
medium’s left with her left limb between mine and both of my hands
holding her left hand and wrist, while Eric Dingwall had the Committee
seat on her right. Eva was accompanied at all of the seances by Mme.
Bisson and the method of procedure was always the same. After Eva had
been stripped and searched[96] in an adjoining room by the lady members
of the Committee, she returned dressed in tights and Mme. Bisson would
then put her into a mesmeric sleep. There is no doubt in my mind
that the girl was really put to sleep. We were requested to all join
in asking her in unison for about fifteen minutes at each crisis to
“give”--“donnez”--then, after about three hours, she would bring forth
this alleged ectoplasm.

At one of the seances the Hon. Feilding did insist on Eva’s eating
crackers and drinking coffee, so that if she had anything concealed in
her stomach, which she might by regurgitation expel, the coffee would
discolor it.

The seance of June 22, 1920, was held at 20 Hanover Square, London.
Mme. Bisson and Eva retired to another room and Eric Dingwall sewed
a black lace veil to the tights which Eva wore. This veil completely
enshrouded her and looked like a sort of bag or net. The object of this
was to prevent her from placing anything in her mouth or get anything
from her tights to the neck--in fact, it was a double security against
fraud. We sat and waited and finally she expelled from her mouth a
great deal of foam.

Feilding and Baggley stated that it looked as though it had come from
her nose. I saw distinctly that it was a heavy froth and was adhering
to her veil on the inside. Dingwall, who sat next to the medium, agreed
with me it had emanated from her mouth, but when she leaned forward
it looked as though it was coming from her nose. She produced a white
plaster and eventually managed to juggle it over her eye. There was a
face in it which looked to me like a colored cartoon and seemed to
have been unrolled.

The last thing she produced that evening was a substance which she said
she felt in her mouth and asked permission to use her hands to show.
This was granted and she took a load from her mouth behind the veil
which was wet and looked soaked. It appeared to be inflated rubber.
No one saw a face painted on it. Presently it seemed to disappear.
They all said it “vanished suddenly,” but my years of experience
in presenting the Hindoo needle trick[97] convinced me that she
“sleight-of-handed” it into her mouth while pretending to have it
between her fingers. I know positively that the move she made is almost
identical with the manner in which I manipulate my experiment. Dingwall
was very confident and told Mme. Bisson that he was _nearly_ satisfied
with Eva’s experiments. She showed her peevishness to Feilding so
plainly that I could scarcely conceal my smiles.

In the course of conversation after the seance, Mme. Bisson told the
Committee that at one time Eva had materialized on the top of her knees
the head of an American soldier with a heavy mustache and blue eyes.
It caused some merriment when Dingwall asked her how she could tell
the color of a man’s eyes in the dark. Mme. Bisson, perplexed and in
grieved tones, asked whether they were suspicious or simply did not
believe her. They tried hard to pacify her but to no avail.


At the seance of June 24th, held in the same place, I arrived somewhat
late but the Committee allowed me to come in. That evening I felt that
there was something wrong in the air and after the lapse of two hours
Mme. Bisson told us that she was in grief and greatly disheartened
because there was so much suspicion aimed at her. She was especially
peeved at Dingwall, who had told her that he was only “almost”
convinced. At no time was I antagonistic but, on the contrary, willing
to help along.

Presently Feilding in a rather jovial mood left the room for a breath
of fresh air. When he came back he was very serious and asked that
they continue. Mme. Bisson thought he was trying to tease her and
became very angry. She was wrong, in my opinion, but they argued and
expostulated for half an hour and then the seance broke up. During the
argument Eva, who was in a cabinet in a “trance state,” spoke out as
though she had not been in a trance. I afterwards asked Mr. Feilding
if this was not suspicious, but he told me that it was possible for
a human being while in a trance or hypnotic state to carry on a
conversation consciously. When Mme. Bisson left us Mr. Feilding told
me that he was very sorry about the unpleasantness and would make all
possible amends to her.

After a number of sittings with Eva during which nothing startling
occurred I made up my mind to be lenient with the medium and help her,
so I held her hands for some time and gradually withdrew both of mine,
giving her all the leeway she needed in case there was any desire on
her part to use the hand which I was supposed to be holding, but she
made no move whatever.

I was not in any way convinced by the demonstrations witnessed. I
believe that Eva’s feats are accomplished by regurgitation. If not,
the work she is reputed to do is an “inside job.”[98] I regret that I
do not believe Mme. Bisson entitled to a clean bill of health. During
the seances which I attended she kept up a quasi hypnotic work full of
gestures and suggestions as to what could be seen, putting into the
minds of those present “shadowy forms and faces.” In my estimation she
is a subtle and gifted assistant to Eva whom I do not believe to be
honest. On the contrary, I have no hesitation in saying that I think
the two simply took advantage of the credulity and good nature of the
various men with whom they had to deal.

In this conclusion I am not alone, for in reviewing the Villa Carmine
seances of Mlle. Eva, Mr. Heuze states in the _London Telegraph_ of
September 4th, 1922:

“The whiteness supposed to have come from the ‘world beyond’ was
nothing but a Communicant’s veil rolled up in the medium’s pocket.”

He also quotes Mlle. Eva as saying:

“Monsieur, I never made any confession.”

“In that case,” he comments, “all I can say is that M. Carborrnel, M.
Coulom, Maître Marsault, Maître Jourman, Dr. Demis, Mlle. Mare, M.
Verdier, Cochet M. Portal, Mme. Portal and others must have all lied in
a body to persecute Mlle. Eva.”

Also the Sorbonne scientists at Paris, according to a report in the
_New York Times_, stated officially that during fifteen seances with
Mlle. Eva there was nothing beyond the simple act of regurgitation.
In two instances there was no ectoplasm seen at any time in spite of
the fact that Mme. Bisson suggested that two little discs produced
by Mlle. Eva were assuming forms and faces. None of the professors,
however, were able to see anything of the kind, but on the contrary
declared that:

“The substance was absolutely inert, only moving as movement was
given it by the medium’s mouth. The substance having been reabsorbed
the medium seemed to be chewing for some seconds and then apparently
swallowed it.”[99]

W. J. Crawford, Doctor of Science, and a lecturer on Mechanical
Engineering, of Belfast, Ireland, became very much interested in a
family of mediums consisting of a father, four daughters, a son, and
a son-in-law and known as the Goligher Circle. Of the seven, the most
successful was Miss Kathleen Goligher.[100]

While at Mr. Feilding’s home in London I had the pleasure of meeting
this Dr. Crawford and talking with him for several hours. During the
talk he showed me pictures of what he claimed was ectoplasm exuding
from different parts of Kathleen Goligher’s body and told me he was
going to use them in a forthcoming book.

“Do you honestly believe that everything you have experienced through
your contact and experiments with the girl is absolutely genuine?” I
asked him.

“I am positive in my belief,” he answered.

After he had gone Mr. Feilding turned to me and asked:

“What do you think of Dr. Crawford?”

“He seems mad to me,” I answered.

“Houdini, you are mistaken,” he replied.

Nevertheless I do not think that Dr. Crawford was the right man or had
the right sort of a mind for an investigation. To me his credulity
seemed limitless. E. E. Fournier d’Albe’s report of Dr. Crawford’s
seance with the Goligher Circle coincides with my judgment. In a
communication addressed to “Light” in August, 1922, d’Albe referring to
his own tenth seance says:

“I found to my surprise that I could myself with some little
management, produce the phenomena with my feet exactly as I had
observed them.”

Dr. Von Schrenk-Notzing[101] charged d’Albe with entering his
investigation with “prejudice against the genuineness of the Goligher
phenomena.” This d’Albe denied, saying:

    “I had gone to Belfast fresh from Eva C’s seance with a strong
    conviction of reality and with firm faith in Dr. Crawford’s
    reliability and accuracy. I expected a gifted medium surrounded
    by her honest folks, but then came the blows: first, the
    contact photographs, then the evidences of trickery. The sight
    of the ‘medium’ raising a stool with her foot, filled me with
    bitter disappointment. _The simple, honest folks all turned out
    to be an alert, secretive, troublesome group of well-organized

Here is the experience of a man, who, with a mind _prejudiced in
favor_, entered upon a series of tests expecting full confirmation of
impressions already gotten from his experiences with Eva C., but though
ready to believe, not biased against the conclusions or rational
deduction. His summary, though brief, is worthy of note:

    “The Goligher Circle has repeatedly been urged, by myself
    and others, to submit to further investigations by a fresh
    investigator, but so far without success. If it does consent, I
    can predict two things with confidence:

    I. No genuine psychic phenomena will be observed.

    II. No evidence of fraud will be obtained, as the members of
    the Circle are exceedingly wary, and the evidence of trickery
    which I obtained was gathered under conditions which they had
    not foreseen, but which they will doubtless avoid in the future.

    “I also feel safe in predicting that if Miss Goligher’s feet
    and hands are controlled, _and the cooperation of the other
    sitters eliminated_, there will be no levitation of any kind.

                              (Signed)  E. E. Fournier d’Albe.
                                           21 Gower Street,

Poor Dr. Crawford! He committed suicide in Belfast in 1920 and left a
note saying that his research into Spiritualism had nothing to do with
his self-murder. I am very sorry indeed that this sincere investigator
became his own judge because what he had written had been done in good

A short time after Dr. Crawford’s death his literary executor requested
Dr. d’Albe, early in 1921, to undertake a further series of researches
with the same medium and circle in order, if possible, to obtain an
independent confirmation of his results and theories and to collect
more data concerning the nature of these manifestations. d’Albe tells
in his book how he caught Katie Goligher manipulating and how he saw
against the dim, red background of the wall the stool held by Katie’s
foot and a portion of her leg. In some of these manipulations the
people around the table assisted.

When he left Belfast he wrote a very nice letter in which he intimated
that the result of his three months’ experience with the Goligher
Circle did not furnish any definite proofs of the psychic origin of the
numerous phenomena witnessed by him, and as they were of no scientific
value he had decided to have no more sittings. It was suggested that
Katie Goligher give twelve more sittings under test conditions, but she
refused on the ground that her health would not permit her to entertain
such a proposal for at least a year.

I sat with d’Albe at one of Mlle. Eva’s seances. I liked his methods
and believe him to be a sincere investigator. I have the following note
from him in answer to a letter of mine.

                                             October 10, 1922.

    “Dear Houdini:

    “Yours of the 26th ult. just received. Yes, the Goligher legend
    has lost its glamour. I must say I was greatly surprised at
    Crawford’s blindness....

                                        “Sincerely yours,

In 1920, Capt. C. Marsh Beadnell, of London, published a pamphlet in
which he offered twenty pounds if Dr. Crawford’s mediums would produce
a single levitation under conditions which would preclude trickery. I
am certain that any magician with a circle of six of his own choosing
and with only one observer of the Crawford type could, under the same
conditions, produce effects much more startling than any of those
recounted by the trustful doctor.

The book to which Dr. Crawford referred when he showed me the
photographs he intended to use in it has, since his death, been
published by David Gow, Editor of the Spiritualistic paper _Light_. In
a prefatory note he writes:

“I could say much about the present book with its remarkable
elucidation of many problems connected with the psychical phenomena of
Spiritualism, but I content myself with a reference to such experiments
as those with the soft clay and the methylene blue, which finally clear
away certain suspicions which have always attached to psychical mediums
in connection with materialization phenomena amongst uninstructed
investigators. This is not the least valuable part of a valuable book.”

The above statement raises the question of what bearing any of these
experiments, supposing every detail claimed were a fact, has on a
future state. What possible information could impressions in clay, or
stockings soiled by dye, furnish concerning the future state of a soul?

Ejner Nielson, of Copenhagen, was sponsored by Dr. Oscar Jaeger,
Professor of Economics at the University of Christiania, Norway, and
President of the Norwegian Society for Psychical Research. Professor
Jaeger was invited by the Editor of the _Politikon_, at Copenhagen,
to hold a seance with Neilson. He accepted and it took place in
January, 1922, before a specially selected committee[102] appointed
by the president of the Norwegian University, Professor Frederick
Stange. A few weeks later the committee reported that Nielson had
not been capable of producing any so-called teleplasma or phenomena
of materialization. Subsequently the Society for Psychical Research
reported that teleplasma had been “artificially brought into the body
of the medium.”

Paul Heuze, writing of the Polish medium, in the _London Daily
Telegraph_ of September 18, 1922, says:

“S. D. Stamislaski arrived in Paris on April 7th. On the 10th he had an
interview at the Sorbonne with Professor Piéron and on the 11th I went,
at his request, to take part in the initial seance which was held in a
bedroom of his hotel. This was, of course, merely a preparatory seance.
My impression was not at all favorable.”

In speaking of the subsequent seances of this medium he declares:

“The whole thing may be summed up in a single sentence; the result
was pitiable. Suffice it to say that in spite of inadequate control,
not only did I never see any of the luminous phenomena of the first
seances but that hardly anything took place at all and when it did it
was merely one of those clumsy pieces of deception that are practiced
in the most ordinary Spiritualistic seances:--Articles moved, thrown
forward, touchings, slaps, books dropped on the head, etc. The whole
thing carried out in such a manner that there could not be the
slightest doubt as to the gross trickery with which it was performed.”

I have personally attended seances held by two of the ectoplasmic
mediums, Mlle. Eva and Mrs. Thompson, and I have no doubt that it
is only a question of time when all such mediums, as well as these
two, including Stamislawa, P. Frank Kluski, S. G. Stamislaski, Jean
Guzek,[103] Kathleen Goligher, Ejner Nielson, Frau Siebert and Willy
Sch, will be authentically classified as questionable.

Bear in mind, I am not a skeptic. It is my will to believe and
if convincing evidence is brought forward I will be the first to
acknowledge my mistake, but up to the present day nothing has crossed
my path to make me think that the Great Almighty will allow emanations
from a human body of such horrible, revolting, viscous substances as
Baron Von Schrenk Notzing claims, hideous shapes, which, like “genii
from the bronze bottle,” ring bells, move handkerchiefs, wobble tables,
and do other “flap-doodle” stunts.



It has come to my attention in talking to numbers of laymen that
the general public thinks of Spiritualism only in terms of mediums
and seances and that the average man does not seem to realize the
suffering, losses, misfortunes, crimes and atrocities of which it
is the underlying cause and must bear the primary responsibility.
During the more than thirty years in which I have been investigating
Spiritualism I have industriously collected all possible data on the
subject and in the thousands of clippings, dating from 1854 to the
present time, which are filed away in my library, there are hundreds
which tell of crimes attributable to Spiritualism. In my great
collection of books there are many by world-renowned writers, men of
science, physicians, and philosophers, each dealing with the curse of
Spiritualism. It touches every phase of human affairs and emotions,
leaving in its wake a crowd of victims whose plight is frequently
pathetic, sometimes ludicrous, oftener miserable and unfortunate, and
who are always deluded. It is to these effects of Spiritualism which
are seldom considered that I wish to call the reader’s attention in
this chapter.

The _New York Herald_ on June 16, 1923, told under a Syracuse date line
the following incident:

“William H. Burr of Rochester, speaking to-day at the business session
of the New York State Assembly of Spiritualists, of which he is
President, said he could prove scientifically and conclusively the
fact of communication with the Spirit world. Mr. Burr appealed for the
abolition of capital punishment. He explained that he had communicated
with Spirits from the bodies of murderers and realized their
sufferings, as those skeptical of psychic communication never can.”

The _New York Evening World_ of March 8, 1922, reports that:

“Thurs Bergen Vigelius, a student in chemistry, of Brooklyn, N. Y.,
with faith that a Spiritual ‘glimpse’ of the hereafter and power to
write a book thereof would be a distinct contribution to science and
literature if he could ‘project himself into a comatose condition
simulating death,’ drugged himself frequently into experimental sleep,
but on his last experiment his consciousness not only deserted him, but
breath and life accompanied it. He was regarded as an exceptionally
bright student with every prospect of a promising career, had he not
been susceptible to a fallacious belief.”

One of the saddest cases of modern times is that of the young Barnard
College student, Miss Marie Bloomfield, who declared herself in love
with a Spirit and finally was driven to suicide in order to join him.
The young lady had been an ardent student of Spiritualism and very
active in its cause. All the newspapers of February 9, 1923, carried an
account of her death, which attracted so much attention that a law was
proposed in the New York Assembly to prevent seances but it failed of
being passed.

The _Washington Times_ (D. C.) of January 14, 1923, tells of an Earl L.
Clark who secured a divorce on the grounds that his wife claimed that
she had a “Spirit affinity” named Alfred and that this Alfred through
Clark’s wife made his life unbearable, even predicting his death so
that she might marry some man who would “accept Alfred’s Spiritual

According to an account in the _New York World_, John Slater, chief
medium of the National Spiritualists Association, claims that there
were over five hundred Spiritualists who served with the American
Expeditionary Force, none of which were wounded or afflicted with
“cooties.” The freedom from wounds he attributed to the influence of

The _New York Times_ on April 27, 1922, told of a John Cornyn, in San
Francisco, who shot and killed two of his boys, one seven and the other
eight, because, according to the police, he had been in “communication”
with his wife who had been dead a year and she “had asked him to send
all of their five children to her.”

The following story in the _New York Times_ of April 22, 1887, comes
from Philadelphia:

“The jury in the case of Mrs. Sarah Patterson, an alleged medium,
charged by the County Medical Society with practising medicine and
surgery without being registered as a physician, this afternoon
returned a verdict of guilty. The defence set up by the defendant’s
counsel was that Mrs. Patterson was a medium and under the control
of Spirits, and was not therefore responsible for what she did in a
trance. The defendant’s counsel are both Spiritualists and the case has
attracted considerable interest, the court room being crowded since the
trial began.”

These are the sort of things for which Spiritualism is responsible that
are being told of in the papers frequently. To these few examples I
could add hundreds from my files and they are constantly growing.

A hoax which usually creates a sensation, but which is apt, ultimately,
to have a decidedly bad effect on believers’ nerves, consists in
allowing some person to touch or even fondle a materialized Spirit.
One such demonstration occurred in a Southern city, where there lived
a medium known as Mrs. M----. Her seances were always well attended
and largely made up of the elite of the town. On one particular night
a Spirit came forth and called for Andrew, saying in the most austere

“I am the Spirit of ‘Josie’ and I want to see my beloved whom I left
twenty years ago. I know that he is present and that he wants to hear
from me, and more important, I know he still loves me, for in those
twenty years he has never married.”

With trembling knees and shaking hands the man climbed to the stage
and in the midst of sobs recognized and embraced his sweetheart. It
was a very touching and pathetic scene and the believers were greatly
affected, and at some one’s suggestion an ex-minister and editor of a
Spiritualistic magazine, who was present, married the Spirit bride to
the live groom. It was a sensational proof of mediumship and Mrs. M----
was headlined in all the local papers. Unfortunately, however, for the
cause of Spiritualism, my old friend, Professor Harry Cook, happened to
be in the neighborhood and on hearing about it hired a hall, challenged
the medium to a test, and with a lady assistant performed and exposed
the miracle.

I recall another instance where one of my friends was investigating a
materialization seance. It was claimed that the Spirit of his deceased
wife was manifesting and he asked permission to kiss her. This was
graciously granted and he told me later that she must have forgotten to
shave for she had a stubble beard. Incidentally I might add that while
he attended the seance his real wife waited for him at a nearby theatre.

Such an eminent scientist as Sir William Crookes evidently fell for
the materialization hoax, judging from what he tells us about his
experience at a seance where Florence Cook was the medium and Katie
King the phantom. I will quote the story in his own words as he tells
it in his book “Researches in Spiritualism.”

“Several times she took my arm and the impression I received that it
was a living woman at my side and not a visitor from the other world
was so strong that the temptation to repeat a recent and curious
experiment became almost irresistible.

“Realizing then that if it were not a Spirit beside me it was in any
case a lady, I asked her permission to take her in my arms in order
to verify the interesting observation that a bold experimenter had
recently made known. This permission was graciously given, and I took
advantage of it respectfully, as any gentleman would have done in the
same circumstances. The ‘ghost,’ which made no resistance, was a being
as material as Miss Cook herself.

“Katie then declared that on this occasion she felt able to show
herself at the same time as Miss Cook. I lowered the gas and with my
phosphorus lamp entered the room which served as a cabinet. It was
dark and I groped for Miss Cook, finding her crouched upon the floor.
Kneeling down, I let the air enter my lamp and by its light saw the
young woman dressed in black velvet, as she had been at the beginning
of the seance, and appearing completely insensible.

“She did not stir when I took her hand and held the lamp near her
face, but she continued to breathe quietly. Raising my lamp, I looked
around me and saw Katie, who was standing close behind Miss Cook. She
was clad in flowing white drapery, as we had already seen her in the
seance. Holding one of Miss Cook’s hands in mine, and still kneeling,
I raised and lowered the lamp, as much to illuminate the whole figure
of Katie as to convince myself fully that I really saw the true Katie,
whom I had held in my arms a few moments ago, and not the phantom of a
disordered brain.

“She did not speak but nodded her head in recognition. Three different
times I carefully examined Miss Cook, crouching before me, to assure
myself that the hand I held was indeed that of a living woman, and
thrice turned my lamp toward Katie to scrutinize her with sustained
attention, until I had not the slightest doubt that she was really
there before me.”

Another instance of this sort is told of by Florence Marryat in her
book “There Is No Death.”

“I opened the curtains of the cabinet and there stood John Powles
himself, stalwart and living. He stepped up brusquely and took me in
his arms and kissed me, four or five times, as a long departed brother
might have done; and strange to say, I did not feel the least surprised
at it, but clung to him like a sister. John Powles had never once
kissed me during his life time. Although we had lived for four years in
the closest intimacy, often under the same roof, we had never indulged
in any familiarity.”

Unfortunately mere deception is not the only or the worst evil in these
Spiritualistic materializations. Frequently they are made the means of
accomplishing criminal designs. There came to my attention a case of a
very peculiar nature in which a widow was robbed of a large fortune. It
appears that there was a wealthy old widower, a devoted Spiritualist,
who was easily influenced by certain mediums. These same mediums also
had among their clients a rather weak-minded widow. At a seance they
got the old man to propose marriage to this widow who, in turn, was
being advised through them by the Spirit of her husband to marry the
old man. The old man did not live very long after the wedding and on
his death bed promised the woman that he would come back to aid her and
give her financial advice. He had previously made a will giving her
absolute control of his estate.

The body was taken to an undertaking establishment to be cared for
until the funeral and on the day before the service the widow attended
a seance at which her husband told her:

“You go to my coffin to-morrow morning before the ceremony and I will
speak to you, giving you my final instructions from my mortal body.”

The next morning, accompanied by a nurse, the woman went to the
undertaker’s and was taken to the room where the body lay in its
casket. She spoke and to her astonishment the corpse opened its eyes
and said:

“I want you to give half of the fortune I willed you to B---- and
M----, the mediums. They have helped me for years and I would like to
show them my appreciation. Farewell, I will speak to you at seances but
never again from the body.”

The astounded widow threw herself on the body crying:

“I promise! I will! I promise!”

“Promise?” asked the corpse.

“I promise faithfully,” she replied.

True to her word, the widow divided the fortune with the mediums, who
are now in foreign countries living a peaceful life unless troubled by
their consciences.

The deception was worked as follows: the mediums, taking advantage of
the undertaker’s weakness, kept him intoxicated and were thus free to
do whatever they cared to around his establishment. The casket was
arranged with a false bottom which ran in and out on ball bearings
and one end was made to open. Just before the widow’s visit to the
undertaking establishment this false bottom with the old man’s body was
run out of the casket and hidden in an adjoining room and one of the
mediums, made up to represent the dead man, was placed in the casket.
As soon as the act was over the corpse was put back in its proper place.

This is not the only instance of this sort by any means. I have known
of two other instances in which corpses have been used for purposes
of fraud. In one a man was dying. A lawyer was sent for and the nurse
gotten out of the way on some plausible excuse. After the man died,
but before the lawyer arrived, his body was hidden under the bed. One
of the gang took his place in the bed and dictated a will with gasping
breath and afterwards made his mark in the presence of a perfectly
honest attorney and witness. Before the nurse got back the corpse had
been placed in the bed and there was nothing to show that a fraud had
been committed.

To show that such things are possible and that exchanging bodies in a
coffin can be accomplished, I want to call attention to the coffin act
which I did for the Boston Athletic Association. A solid oak coffin
was furnished by the National Casket Company and delivered to the
Association. Six-inch screws were used to fasten down the lid but I
managed to escape nevertheless, leaving no traces.

It is not generally known that Charles J. Guiteau, the assassin of
President Garfield, was a pronounced Spiritualist. He claimed that he
was inspired by the Spirits four times. Once in connection with his
entering the Oneida community. Once preceding his attempt to establish
a newspaper called “The Theocrat.” Again when writing his book “The
Truth a Companion to the Bible,” and still again when he was inspired
to kill the President.

Another case in which Spirits were claimed to have been responsible for
diverting funds is told in “The Fallacies of Spiritualism.”

“In September, 1920, an action was brought in the New York Courts
against a medium named Mrs. Mabelle Hirons, for the recovery of twelve
thousand four hundred dollars, alleged to have been obtained by
‘Spiritualistic’ means from Dr. J. B. Hubbell, of Rockville, Maryland.
Dr. Hubbell declared that after the death of Clara Barton,[104]
founder of the American Red Cross, to whom he had been secretary, it
was intended to erect a memorial to that lady, to which he proposed
contributing twelve thousand four hundred dollars of his own money,
including nine hundred dollars bequeathed him by Clara Barton herself.
In 1914 he visited Mrs. Hirons, who, he said, went into a trance and
gave him a ‘message’ that was supposed to come from Clara Barton
and which directed him to give all the money to Mrs. Hirons for the
memorial. Dr. Hubbell believed the ‘message’ to be genuine and gave her
the money, but the memorial was never erected--hence the action.”

A few years ago the papers told of the case of a woman in the Middle
West who was sensationally and cruelly deceived by a medium. When she
lost her little girl it was feared that she would not recover from the
intense grief with which she was overcome. On the woman’s farm was a
hired man whose wife was a medium. He talked sympathetically with her
and got her to allow him to send for his wife, who was in Chicago.
She began preaching Spiritualism as soon as she arrived, finding the
woman a willing listener. When it was apparent to the medium that
the woman thoroughly believed her doctrine she began to advise her to
pray nightly for the restoration of her child and finally one night
she announced to the credulous woman that at midnight four days later
her child would be restored to her. She cautioned her that she must
fast that day, dress her room and bed in white, and sleep alone that
night. The instructions were followed to the letter. At midnight she
heard the stairs creak. Then suddenly her door was pushed open and she
saw something luminous approaching her bed. It carried a bundle and a
voice announced that her daughter was coming back to her. After the
apparition left the woman found a baby girl in the bed with her. Soon
after the medium persuaded the woman and her husband to dispose of
their property and go to a Spirit Colony in California. After nearly
three years they came back to their home with practically no means but
with the knowledge that the baby girl came from a foundling society in

Not the least of the evils of Spiritualism is the insanity which it
causes. A mental specialist of high standing in Birmingham, England,
issued a warning in 1922 quoting numerous cases which came under his
observation and were the result of Spiritualistic teaching. An English
doctor has estimated the number of such cases at a million. It is
a well-established fact that the human reason gives way under the
exciting strain of Spiritualism. The list is not limited to European
countries; we have a goodly share of baneful results right at home. Not
long ago Dr. Curry, Medical Director of the State Insane Asylum of New
Jersey, issued a warning concerning the “Ouija-board” in which he said:

“The ‘Ouija-board’ is especially serious because it is adopted mainly
by persons of high-strung neurotic tendency who become victims of
actual illusions of sight, hearing and touch at Spiritualistic seances.”

He predicted that the insane asylums would be flooded with patients if
popular taste did not swing to more wholesome diversions.

In March, 1920, it was reported in the papers that the craze for the
Ouija-boards, with which it was thought spirit messages could be
received, had reached such a pitch in the little village of Carrito,
across San Francisco Bay, that five people had been driven mad.

The available amount of evidence of this sort is almost unbelievable,
but enough has been given to show the extent of the evil. The average
medium works only for the money he or she can extract from the public;
money obtained by moving the deepest sentiments in the human soul.
Is it right to legally sanction the medium, to allow him to prey on
the public--not only allowing him to take the earthly possessions
of his victims, but their soul, and oftentimes their mind as well?
Spiritualism is nothing more or less than mental intoxication, the
intoxication of words, of feelings and suggested beliefs. Intoxication
of any sort when it becomes a habit is injurious to the body but
intoxication of the mind is always fatal to the mind. We have
prohibition of alcohol, we have prohibition of drugs, but we have no
law to prevent these human leeches from sucking every bit of reason
and common sense from their victims. It ought to be stopped, it must
be stopped, and it would seem that the multiplicity of exposures and
the multitude of prosecutions that have followed rational investigation
should be sufficient to justify, yes, demand legislation for the
complete annihilation of a cult built on false pretence, flimsy
hear-say evidence, and the absurdity of accepting an optical _illusion_
as a fact.



Spiritualism has been the cause of much discussion between men of
science, men of magic, and believers in the “Spirit World.” Countless
investigations, wise and otherwise, have been held in most of the
countries of the globe. Many of them have been made by fair-minded,
unbiased men; men who delved deep into the unknown with a clear
conscience and whether successful or not were willing to give the world
the result of their probings. Men who were not afraid to admit that
their experience was not sufficient to cope with the medium’s skill and
years of training and that they had been fooled. But there have been
other so-called investigators who have attended seances wishing to be
fooled and as “the wish is father of the thought” they have been misled.

What these investigators _see_ done and what they _think_ they see
done are in reality two entirely different things and by the time they
start to write their experiences there are usually complications. I
rarely believe a full hundred per cent the explanations I hear or
read. It is to be said to the credit of the investigators that they
do not deliberately make misstatements but the nature of the brain is
such that it is almost impossible to avoid mal-observation and these
mal-observations are the curse of investigation.

Investigations under conditions favorable to the medium cannot be
termed “investigations.” They are nothing more than a demonstration
of the medium’s power to divert the attention, carrying it at will
to any place they wish and numbing the subconscious mind. Under
such conditions they are not only able to delude the innocent and
simple-minded but also men whose accomplishments have proven their
intellects to be above the average.

When a medium is subjected to conditions which are, to say the
least, disconcerting, and the usual effects are not obtained, almost
invariably the claim is made that there are antagonistic waves and
that the “auras” are bad, and if, as often happens, the result is an
unqualified exposé and the medium’s fall from power the followers
of Spiritualism usually put forth a statement saying the medium
overstepped the bounds in trying to give results and resorted to
trickery, but that the majority of previous seances were genuine.

Perhaps my ideas on the subject of how to conduct an investigation are
wrong; I am fully convinced, however, that the only way to conduct a
successful one is to get the committee together previous to the seance,
discuss the expected manifestations, formulate some plan for concerted
action and if possible assign each member some specific part as was
done in the case of Palladino’s fall. These parts should be rehearsed
and then when the seance is held there is a much greater possibility of
the committee being able to judge intelligently. But when scientists
report some feat of legerdemain as being abnormal simply because
they cannot detect the deception, I think it is time to add to each
investigating committee a successful and reputable professional
mystifier, and I might add that all mediums hate to have a magician
attend a seance.

Of the many investigations, since the beginning of modern Spiritualism,
I have selected a few of the most important and will try and show the
reader the necessity of placing on investigating committees men who
cannot be prejudiced or influenced by subdued lights or weird and
mystifying sounds; men who use their God-given gift of reason to the
best of their ability; men whose attention cannot be diverted by the
medium; men whose brain cells are versatile and not overdeveloped
in one particular direction; men who can pay strict attention to
their commission and not be led astray by the glib-tongued medium’s
misdirection. Then we will have real investigations and the world at
large will benefit.

A short time before his death Henry Seybert, an enthusiastic
Spiritualist with a conscientious desire that Spiritualism should
be authentically established, gave the University of Pennsylvania
sufficient money to establish a chair of Philosophy on condition
that a commission should be appointed to investigate “all systems of
morals, Religion or Philosophy which assume to represent the _truth_
and particularly modern Spiritualism.” Accordingly there were selected
from among the doctors and professors of the University ten men to be
known as the “Seybert Commission.” A fairer-minded and more impartial
commission could not have been appointed. Each man had declared
himself holding an open mind and ready to accept whatever there was
evidence to prove, but realizing “that men eminent in intelligence and
attainment yield to Spiritualism an entire credence,” they felt that
one could not “fail to stand aside in tender reverence when crushed
and bleeding hearts are seen to seek it for consolation and for hope.”
In order to be amply prepared to do their work in an intelligent and
understanding manner they provided themselves with the best literature
of the day on the subject and such records of previous investigations
as were available. After a careful digest of all this information
the Commission was ready to begin its actual work in March, 1884.
_The entire ten men_ of the Commission _were willing to believe_, and
their adviser, Mr. Thomas R. Hazard, had been a personal friend of
Mr. Seybert and was known throughout the land as an _uncompromising

The first medium to which the Commission gave its attention was Mrs.
S. E. Patterson, a slate writing mystifier and automatic writer.
The result of this first case was _nil_. After waiting patiently an
hour and a half for the spirits to move the meeting adjourned to the
disappointment of all. Mr. Hazard was especially chagrined, for the
medium was considered “one of the very best in the world.” She had
given him a private sitting the evening before at which “messages from
the Spirit of Henry Seybert came thick and fast,” but they declined to
manifest for the Commission.

This seance proved to be typical of all that fell to the lot of the
Seybert Commission to investigate. It continued its work for three
years and investigated every case of importance which came before
it. One of these was Margaret Fox, with whom the Commission had two
sittings and became convinced that the raps came from her person. When
she was told of its conclusion she admitted that the seances were not
satisfactory but declined further sittings on the ground of ill health
and because she doubted if more satisfactory results would follow
and admitting that they might result in a “_confirmation_” of the
Commission’s belief as to the cause of the raps.

Many of the most prominent mediums of the day appeared before the
Commission during its three years of work. Some of them underwent a
whole series of tests and the phenomena covered the whole gamut from
simple rapping to spirit photography, automatic and slate writing,
materialization, etc. In every case with but one exception the result
was either a blank seance, a positive failure, or a deliberate cheat.
The exception was when Mr. Harry Kellar was called in as a magician
to demonstrate his power as a slate writer. The Commission was
successfully baffled, not a single member being able to fathom his
method until he explained it.

The Commission carefully weighed all the evidence placed before it
and formed its conclusions with such deliberation and thoroughness
that the most critical on either side found no cause for objecting or
saying that it was swayed or biased by any undue influence whatever.
It pursued its work on purely rational, scientific lines, strenuously
avoiding all conditions which might be construed as conducive to
doubtful conclusions. It was looking for facts in a matter-of-fact way
and as there was no opportunity for screening artifices no occult or
psychic phenomena were proven to have existed. As an evidence of the
fairness with which the Commission was considered to have done its
work, I quote the following letter to the Commission from Dr. Henry

                    “No. 11 E. 13th Street, N. Y., Feb. 4, 1885.

    “Dear Mr. Furness:--I take this opportunity to express to
    you, and through you to the other members of the Seybert
    Commission, my hearty approval of the course pursued by them
    in their investigation of phenomena occurring in my presence.
    Fully realizing that I am only the instrument or channel
    through which these manifestations are produced, it would be
    presumption on my part to undertake to lay down a line to
    be followed by the unseen intelligence, whose servant I am.
    Hence I did say their conditions must be acceded to or I
    would return to New York. That they did so, is evident to my
    mind from the results obtained, which I regard as a necessary
    preliminary to a continuation, when other experiments may
    be introduced with better prospects of success. It may be
    well not to insist on following the exact course followed by
    Professor Zollner, but leave it open to original or impromptu
    suggestions that may be adopted without previous consideration,
    which, if successful, would be of equal value as evidence of
    its genuineness, at the same time give greater breadth to the
    experiments. In conclusion, allow me to say that in the event
    the Committee desires to continue these experiments through
    another series of sittings with me, it will give me pleasure to
    enter into arrangements for that purpose.

                                   “Very truly yours,
                                                  “Henry Slade.”

If all the investigators were to adopt the rational methods of the
Seybert Commission they might easily discover the truth and no longer
submit to imposition by charlatans nor aid and abet them by accepting
as true the claims made by a class which they admit is of a low type,
dishonest, and otherwise disreputable. If sincere, they would assist in
all reasonable attempts to detect fraud and not accept the irrational
pretext that light and touch are detrimental to the health or life of a

Following in the footsteps of the Seybert Commission the Society for
Psychical Research was organized in America and England for the purpose
of investigating all so-called phenomena and freak occurrences not
easily accountable for by natural law and in spite of the following
message which it is claimed was sent by the spirit of the late William
Walker, President of the Buxton Camera Club, to the Crewe Circle, I
believe they are doing good work.

    “Dear Friends of the Circle,[105]

    “I would not spend a moment with the Psychical Research
    Society, because they are nothing more or less than fraud
    hunters and I want you to come to Buxton for a sitting with
    Mrs. Walker, 3, Palace Rd., about the 8th, 9th, of Aug. Then
    the spirit friends can further demonstrate the wondrous powers
    which to-day are needed more than ever. Peace be with you.

                                   “Yours faithfully,
                                                  “W. Walker.”

The membership of these societies is made up of men and women who have
a certain degree of scientific training, all classes of scholarship and
all professions being represented. As a consequence the investigations
have been most exhaustive and carried out by persons especially
qualified for the work, but the results have been most emphatically
against a belief in the return of a soul after death in the guise of a
spirit or the occurrence of anything supernatural at the bidding of a

Naturally, we might not expect a general agreement among a group
of scientific scholars who had entered the field of research from
different points of view, but I believe I can say without fear of
contradiction, that of all who have undertaken the task without
prejudice the majority agree in the opinion that all phenomena ascribed
to spirit power developed through, and presented by, a medium, are
without foundation in fact, and that the result of their investigations
has agreed perfectly with the findings of the Seybert Commission.

In January, 1869, the London Dialectical Society appointed a committee
with thirty-three members to investigate the phenomena alleged to be
Spiritual manifestations and to report on its findings. Professor
Huxley, Professor John Tyndall, and Mr. George Henry Lewes, were
invited to co-operate with the Committee. Professor Huxley refused to
have anything to do with the investigation and in the following letter,
written in answer to the Committee’s invitation, he terms Spiritualism
a “gross imposture.”[106]

    “Sir,--I regret that I am unable to accept the invitation of
    the Council of the Dialectical Society to co-operate with a
    Committee for the investigation of ‘Spiritualism’, and for
    two reasons. In the first place, I have no time for such an
    inquiry, which would involve much trouble and (unless it were
    unlike all inquiries of that kind I have known) much annoyance.
    In the second place, I take no interest in the subject. The
    only case of ‘Spiritualism’ I have had the opportunity of
    examining into for myself was as gross an imposture as ever
    came under my notice. But supposing the phenomena to be
    genuine--they do not interest me. If anybody would endow me
    with the faculty of listening to the chatter of old women and
    curates in the nearest cathedral town, I would decline the
    privilege, having better things to do.

    “And if the folk in the Spiritual world do not talk more wisely
    and sensibly than their friends report them to do, I put them
    in the same category.

    “The only good that I can see in a demonstration of the truth
    of ‘Spiritualism’ is to furnish an additional argument against
    suicide. Better live a crossing-sweeper than die and be made
    to talk twaddle by a ‘medium’ hired at a guinea a _seance_.

                                   “I am, Sir, &c.,
                                              “T. H. Huxley.”

    “29th January, 1869.”

A few days later Mr. Lewes declined the Committee’s invitation as

    “Dear Sir,--I shall not be able to attend the investigation
    of ‘Spiritualism’; and in reference to your question about
    suggestions would only say that the one hint needful is that
    all present should distinguish between facts and inferences
    from facts. When any man says that phenomena are produced by
    _no_ known physical laws, he declares that he knows the laws by
    which they are produced.

                              “Yours, &c.,
                                            “G. H. Lewes.

    “Tuesday, 2nd February, 1869.”

Under date of December 22, 1869, Professor Tyndall wrote the following
in response to his invitation to aid the Committee.

    “Sir--You mention in your note to me three gentlemen, two
    of whom are personally known to me, and for both of whom I
    entertain a sincere esteem.

    “The house of one of these, namely Mr. Wallace, I have already
    visited, and made there the acquaintance of the lady who was
    the reputed medium between Mr. Wallace and the supernatural.

    “And if earnestly invited by Mr. Crookes, the editor of the
    ‘Chemical News,’ to witness phenomena which in his opinion
    ‘tend to demonstrate the existence of some power (magnetic
    or otherwise) which has not yet been recognized by men of
    science,’ I should pay due respect to his invitation.

    “But understand my position: more than a year ago Mr. Cromwell
    Varley, who is, I believe, one of the greatest modern
    Spiritualists, did me the favor to pay me a visit, and he
    then employed a comparison which, though flattering to my
    spiritual strength, seems to mark me out as unfit for spiritual
    investigation. He said that my presence at a _seance_ resembled
    that of a great magnet among a number of small ones. I throw
    all into confusion. Still he expressed a hope that arrangements
    might be made to show me the phenomena, and I expressed my
    willingness to witness such things as Mr. Varley might think
    worth showing to me. I have not since been favored by a visit
    from Mr. Varley.

    “I am now perfectly willing to accept the personal invitation
    of Mr. Crookes, should he consider that he can show me
    phenomena of the character you describe.

                    “I am, sir, your obedient servant,
                                               “John Tyndall.”

    “G. W. Bennett, Esq.”

Unlike the Seybert Commission, which made a formal report to the
University of Pennsylvania immediately on the completion of its work,
the Committee of the Dialectical Society which was appointed in 1869
did not make any report until 1877 and then only what seems to be a
garbled report of sub-committees. The _Spiritual Magazine_ in 1870
commented on this lack of a report as follows:

“Where is the report of the Dialectical Society? This is the question
which many people are asking, but to which no one seems prepared
to give a satisfactory reply. Has this Report, which was to settle
the question of Spiritualism, only unsettled the Dialectical
Society--causing, as we learn, some of its principal officers and
members to secede from it on finding that the investigations of the
Committee pointed in a different way to what they anticipated, and to
which they had committed themselves? People ask--Have the Committee
come to an opinion on the subject or have they too many opinions?”

The only information I have come in contact with referring to the
Dialectical Committee and its work has been from Spiritualistic
publications, most of them under authorship of Mr. James Burns, and I
copy the following from “The Medium and Daybreak” of November 16, 1877:

“Objection has been taken in some quarters to the fact that the
Society itself did not publish the Report, but left the matter of the
publication as an open question to its Committee.” Again: on the 20th
of July, 1870, the council passed a resolution--“that the request of
the Committee, that the Report be printed under the authority of the
Society, be not acceded to.”

The exact nature of the work done by the Dialectical Society’s
Committee can be summed up by another extract from the same issue of
“The Medium and Daybreak”:

“In due time the Committee presented to the Council the General
and Sub-Reports, supplementing the same by a voluminous mass of
evidence taken directly from the _lips of Spiritualists practically
acquainted with the subject--persons of the highest respectability and
representing nearly every grade of society_.” (The italics are mine.)

Another element of discord in the Dialectical investigation is shown by
the following:

“Attempt has been made, of course, to undervalue these telling
researches. The non-successful Committees have been brought gleefully
into prominence, in hope that _positive_ results obtained by the
successful Committees might thereby be discredited.”

It seems to be a published fact that this movement on the part of the
Dialectical Society resulted in much discord amounting to a split in
the Society. Mr. Burns in his editorial column of the “Medium and
Daybreak” says:

“Our present issue affords an important and valuable addition to the
cheap literature of Spiritualism. It is filled with useful matter for
investigators, _judiciously extracted from the Report of the London
Dialectical Society_.” (My italics.)

The supporters of Spiritualism lay great stress and importance on the
fact that a few of their co-workers are men prominent in scientific and
literary circles, but these are in such a minority, when compared with
men of the same time who do not co-operate, that the Spiritualists in
order to give force and dignity to their argument “ring the changes” on
these few names and keep them prominently to the front, notwithstanding
that it has been proven beyond question, time and again, that these
sages themselves have frequently been the victims of fraudulent
mediums, sometimes knowingly.

Doyle in his book “The New Revelation” says:

“The days are surely passing when the mature and considerate opinions
of such men ... can be dismissed with the empty ‘all rot’ or
‘nauseating drivel’ formulæ.”

Perhaps the most prominent man in this respect and whose conclusions,
especially in his later years, were pointed to by Spiritualists as
being beyond dispute was the eminent chemist, Sir William Crookes. He
became intensely interested in Spiritualistic research work as early as
1870 and for the first four years devoted most of his attention to D.
D. Home, who seemed successful in baffling Crookes’ super-knowledge of
scientific investigation. In 1874 he turned his attention to Florrie
Cook, a fifteen year old medium who had been commanding attention for
about three years. She seems to have captivated him within the first
month to such an extent that he went to her defense in print after a
“_disgraceful occurrence_” had given rise to a “_controversy_,” after
which he entertained her at his house. The most convincing test,
though, took place at her home in Hackney. In February, 1874, he wrote:

“These _seances_ have not been going on many weeks but enough has taken
place to thoroughly convince me of the perfect truth and honesty of
Miss Cook, and to give me every reason to expect that the promises so
freely made to me by Katie will be kept. All I now ask is that your
readers will not hastily assume that everything which is _prima facie_
suspicious necessarily implies deception, and that they will suspend
their judgment until they hear from me again on this subject.”

It was not long, evidently, before the scientist awoke from his dream,
for on August 1st, 1874, he wrote to a Russian lady that after four
years of investigation, including months of experience with Home, Katie
Fox, and Florence Cook, he found “no satisfactory proof that the dead
can return and communicate.” A copy of this letter was sent by Aksakoff
to _Light_, and was published in that journal on May 12, 1900. “Sir W.
Crookes did not dissent.”[107] Sometime along about 1875 forty-four
photographic negatives which he had made of Katie King and her medium,
Florrie Cook, together with what prints he had, were, for some reason
not given, accidentally destroyed and he forbade friends who had copies
to reproduce them. He must have made some sort of a discovery for he
“buried himself in a sulky silence which he would not break” for
forty years. “No one knew whether he was a Spiritualist or not,” his
only statement being that “in all his Spiritualistic research he had
‘come to a brick wall.’”[108] In 1914 when asked plainly if he were
a Spiritualist “he evaded the question.” Perhaps the change in his
opinions came over him when he learned that Florence Cook (who became
Mrs. Corner) was exposed[109] on a continental tour and sent back
disgraced. But in 1916, notwithstanding his statement in 1900 and other
previous statements, he went on record in the December 9th issue of
_Light_ as accepting Spiritualism.

All of this stands as proof that Professor Crookes, even after he was
knighted, was of a vacillating mind and for some reason seemed to be
deficient in rational methods of discovering the truth, or at least
disinclined to put them in force outside of his particular line of
science. Possibly, one of the convincing proofs to him may have been
the “tricks” played on him by Annie Eva Fay, for if I am not in error
his failure to detect her trickery was the turning point which brought
him to a belief in Spiritualism. She told me that when Maskelyne, the
magician, came out with an exposé of her work she was forced to resort
to strategy. Going to the home of Professor Crookes she threw herself
on his mercy and gave a series of special tests. With flashing eyes she
told of taking advantage of him. It appears that she had but one chance
in the world to get by the galvanometer[110] but by some stroke of luck
for her and an evil chance for Professor Crookes, the electric light
went out for a second at the theatre at which she was performing, and
she availed herself of the opportunity to fool him. One of the tests
was duplicated by Professor Harry Cooke, a magician.

There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that this brainy man was
hoodwinked, and that his confidence was betrayed by the so-called
mediums that he tested. His powers of observation were blinded and
his reasoning faculties so blunted by his prejudice in favor of
anything psychic or occult that he could not, or would not, resist
the influence.[111] This seems more difficult to comprehend when one
remembers that he did not accept Spiritualism in full until he was
nearing the end of his earthly career. The weakness and unreliability
of Sir William’s judgment as an investigator is further proved by the
fact that he admitted that many of the tests he proposed were rejected
by the mediums he was investigating. Such conditions made the test
impossible and he did not seem to realize it, but notwithstanding all
this he is one of the most quoted authorities in Spiritualistic realms,
particularly by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Another who was misled by the chicanery of mediums which he
investigated during many years of research is Sir Oliver Lodge.
He failed to find sufficient evidence to prompt him to spread the
teachings of Spiritualism until 1904, after which he occasionally
sent a “glow through the Spiritualistic world by some bold profession
of belief.” In 1905 he was not quite ready to endorse but strongly
commended mediums. But by 1916 he had become “the great scientist
of the movement, the link between the popular belief and scientific
theory.” It is extremely difficult, however, to understand how a
leading scientist can permit his pen to lay before a thinking world
such inconsistent impossibilities as the following:

“A table can exhibit hesitation, it can seek for information, it can
welcome a newcomer, it can indicate joy or sorrow, fun or gravity, it
can keep time with a song as if joining in the chorus and most notably
of all it can exhibit affection in an unmistakable manner.”

_What has all this to do with the spirit of the departed?_ How is it
possible to accept such silly nonsense? Think of it! A _table_ with
intelligence, brains--a _table_ with consciousness--a _table_ with
emotion. Yet that is the sort of reasoning used by Sir Oliver in his
book “Raymond” and it is acceptable to all enthusiastic advocates of
occult teaching. When we read of a mind of such high culture being
overcome by such misfortune we are moved to compassion rather than
censure and can only conjecture that the loss of his beloved son,
Raymond, in an accursed war was the cause of it.

Margaret Deland wrote:

“As for the scientific value of the evidence submitted by Sir Oliver,
one must not lose sight of the fact that by far the greater part of it
is from the experience of others and accepted by him as established
facts, in many cases with little or no investigation as applied to
telepathy. By following his career, one familiar with the psychology of
deception will see that he has been an exceptionally ‘easy mark.’”

In describing a private performance of what is known among magicians as
“long-distance second-sight,” after detailing the tests in full, Sir
Oliver writes:

“As regards collusion and trickery, no one who has witnessed the
absolutely genuine and artless manner in which the impressions are
described, but has been perfectly convinced of the transparent honesty
of all concerned.

“This, however, is not evidence to those who have not been present, and
to them I can only say that to the best of my scientific belief, no
collusion or trickery was possible under the varied circumstances of
the experiments.”

From the above, the reader may form his own opinion as to the value
of Sir Oliver Lodge’s investigation, and at the same time should
bear in mind that his so-called investigation is typical of all the
investigations by scientists and sages who have accepted Spiritualism
as a fact or a religion (?).

The remaining figure of this type most conspicuously in the spotlight
on the Spiritualistic stage at the present time is my esteemed friend,
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Very much like Sir Oliver, his opinion hung
in the balance during many years of _investigation_, some thirty or
thirty-five, and it is significant that he did not manifest his deep
concern in the cult until he too, like Sir Oliver, had lost a son in
the late war and his heartstrings had been wrung by a similar grief.

In “The New Revelation,” which was written after he had lost his
son, he tells us that for thirty years he had studied the subject
of Spiritualism “_carelessly_,” _then suddenly in a crisis of
emotion_,[112] he sees a possible balm in it, but instead of realizing
that this was, or should be, the time for real investigation, he threw
up his hands with the cry:

_“The objective side of it ceased to interest, for having made up
one’s mind that it was true there was an end of the matter._”[113]

It is evident from his own confession that he decided to accept
Spiritualism regardless of any real revelation that might present
itself at a future time and the fact that he did cease intelligent
investigation is proved by his own published statements quoted below.

In a letter in the _New York Evening Mail_, Dec. 29, 1921, he says:

“_I don’t need scientific proof of what I hear with my own ears,
see with my own eyes. Nobody does. This is one of the fine things
about Spiritualism. Each person can prove it for himself. It proves
immortality and the better you live here, the further you’ll go there,
progressing finally to the perfect state._”

In the _New York World_, June 22, 1922, he says:

“_That mediums I have recommended have been convicted of fraud; any
medium may be convicted, because the mere fact of being a medium is
illegal by our benighted laws, but no medium I have ever recommended
has been shown to be fraudulent in a sense which would be accepted by
any real psychic student._[114] _This same applies I believe to mediums
recommended by Sir Oliver Lodge._”[115]

In connection with his corroboration of Sir Oliver’s opinion about
mediums Sir Arthur is reported to have said:

_“Sir Oliver is too damn scientific.”_

And the _New York World_ of June 3rd, 1922, quotes him as saying:

“_Most mediums take their responsibilities very seriously and view
their work in a religious light. A temptation to which several great
mediums have succumbed is that of drink. This comes about in a very
natural way, for overworking leaves them in a state of physical
prostration and the stimulus of alcohol affords a welcome relief
and may tend at last to become a custom and finally a curse.[116]
Alcoholism always weakens the moral sense, so that these degenerate
mediums yield themselves more readily to fraud. Tippling and moral
degeneration are by no means confined to psychics._

“_Far from being antagonistic to religion, this psychic movement is
destined to revivify religion. We come upon what is sane, what is
moderate, what is reasonable, what is consistent with gradual evolution
and the benevolence of God. This new wave of inspiration has been sent
into the world by God._”

I will not, at this time, dissect and analyze the above statements,
preferring to let the reader decide for himself after reading them over
carefully and digesting their literal meaning. It is sufficient to
direct attention to the various contradictory statements and variance
in the subjects of law, morality, and religion, and their application
to the subject of Spiritualism.

Sir Arthur is reported as saying that mediumship is like an ear for
music and might exist in “some vulgar person,” but that the medium
is only a carrier of messages comparable to the boy who delivers
telegrams. From the foregoing excerpts of Sir Arthur’s own statements
it will be seen that he depends solely on his _senses_ of _seeing_ and
_hearing_ (the two weakest and most easily deceived) for his evidence.
When once a medium has his confidence he believes implicitly what the
medium tells him, accepts their “hear-say evidence” as gospel truth,
notwithstanding that he admits they are possibly of a vulgar, dishonest
class, often addicted to alcoholism to a degree of debauchery. It is
extremely difficult to harmonize these statements.

As to the sense of sight coupled to the sense of hearing: while at
Washington, D. C., Sir Arthur had a “sitting” with the Zancigs and
after witnessing phenomena at their expert hands and minds, he gave
them a letter of which the following is a transcript:

    “I have tested Professor and Mrs. Zancig to-day and am quite
    assured that their remarkable performance, as I saw it, was due
    to psychic causes (thought transference) and not to trickery.

                                   (Signed)  “Arthur Conan Doyle.”

Mr. Jules Zancig is a magician, a member of the Society of American
Magicians of which I have been the President for the past seven years.
I believe he is one of the greatest second-sight artists that magical
history records. In my researches for the past quarter of a century
I have failed to trace anyone his superior. His system seems to be
supreme. He never at any time claimed telepathy and as he has not,
to my knowledge, obtained money by pretending telepathy or spirit
presentations, it would not be fair to disclose his methods despite
the fact that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put the stamp of genuineness on
his work. Undoubtedly it _appeared_ unfathomable to Sir Arthur and he
therefore concluded that it was psychic and that there could be no
other solution.

Mal-observation is responsible for a lot of misunderstanding,
consequently misrepresentation, and as a result much investigation is
rendered valueless. Such misrepresentation is not intended to deceive
but is an honest expression of a conviction based on supposed facts by
persons unaware that they are victims of illusion. One of the most, if
not the most, flagrant instances of mal-observation I have ever known
of is told of in a book by J. Hewat McKenzie, President of the British
College of Psychic Science, entitled “Spirit Intercourse.” On page 107
he says:

“Houdini, called the ‘Handcuff King,’ who has so ably demonstrated his
powers upon public-hall platforms is enabled by psychic power (though
this he does not advertise), to open lock, handcuff, or bolt that is
submitted to him. He has been imprisoned within heavily barred cells,
doubly and trebly locked, and from them all he escaped with ease. This
ability to unbolt locked doors is undoubtedly due to his mediumistic
powers, and not to any normal mechanical operation on the lock. The
force necessary to shoot a bolt within a lock is drawn from Houdini
the medium, but it must not be thought that this is the only means by
which he can escape from his prison, for at times his body has been
dematerialized and withdrawn, but this will be treated in another part
of this chapter.”

As I am the one most deeply concerned in this charge I am also the
best equipped to deny such erroneous statements. I do claim to free
myself from the restraint of fetters and confinement, but positively
state that I accomplish my purpose purely by physical, not psychical
means. The force necessary to “shoot a bolt within a lock,” is drawn
from Houdini the living human being and not a medium. My methods
are perfectly natural, resting on natural laws of physics. I do not
_dematerialize_ or _materialize_ anything; I simply control and
manipulate material things in a manner perfectly well understood by
myself, and thoroughly accountable for and equally understandable
(if not duplicable) by any person to whom I may elect to divulge my
secrets. But I hope to carry these secrets to the grave as they are of
no material benefit to mankind, and if they should be used by dishonest
persons they might become a serious detriment.

On page 112 of his book Mr. McKenzie again refers to me saying:

“Houdini of world wide fame, previously mentioned, has for years
demonstrated dematerialization, and the passage of matter through
matter upon the public platform, while Mrs. Thompson of America, has
demonstrated materialization. Mrs. Zancig has, with her husband,
publicly exhibited her psychic gift, called ‘thought transference,’
which is purely soul projection, in all the leading world centres. Miss
Fay, and several well known Japanese mediums, for years demonstrated
the passage of matter through matter, and also materialization. These
are only a few of the many who might be mentioned, who demonstrate
psychic gifts before the public. Such public mediums do not, of
course, advertise themselves as performing their wonders by occult
powers, or through the help of spirits, and the public are therefore
left in ignorance of how they perform their marvelous tricks, as
they are called. The author has tested each of those mentioned, by a
personal experiment from the stage, and several also in private, and
can testify that they are mediums, performing most, if not all of
their great wonders by spirit agency. They are naturally reluctant
to acknowledge the fact, for the music-hall public would instantly
resent any claims they might make that they performed their wonders by
spirit power. Their audiences would regard such claims as ‘bunkum,’
and probably subject them to insult, if not to ill treatment, for the
general public are entirely ignorant of such possibilities in the
manipulation of psychical matter as related in this book, which a
medium can develop with the co-operation of spirit entities. It can be
left to the reader’s imagination to picture the face of a music-hall
manager if he were asked to allow upon the stage a demonstration of
spirit powers. Horrors! The poor man would not be able to sleep for
nights if he thought ghosts were working around his buildings or upon
his stage. Thus, knowing the attitude of men toward such things these
wonders of wonders are produced upon the music-hall stage as clever
‘mystery’ tricks. The author does not wish his readers to suppose that
the mechanical sleight-of-hand tricks carried out by Maskelyne and
Devant and similar operators, have anything to do with the mediumistic
gift, for they are a mechanical copy of true magic. These tricks are
performed with tons of machinery, whereas the genuine medium can
produce his wonders, if necessary, naked and in an empty room.

“The last occasion on which the author, under strict test conditions
saw Houdini demonstrate his powers of dematerialization, was before
thousands, upon the public stage of the Grand Theatre, Islington,
London. Here a small iron tank, filled with water, was deposited upon
the stage, and in it Houdini was placed, the water completely covering
his body. Over this was placed an iron lid with three hasps and
staples, and these were securely locked. The body was then completely
dematerialized within this tank within one and a half minutes, while
the author stood immediately over it. Without disturbing any of the
locks, Houdini was transferred from the tank direct to the back of
the stage in a dematerialized state. He was there materialized, and
returned to the stage front, dripping with water, and attired in the
blue jersey suit in which he entered the tank. From the time that he
entered it to his appearance on the stage only one and a half minutes
had expired. While the author stood adjacent to the tank, during the
dematerialization process, a great loss of physical energy was felt
by him, such as is usually experienced by sitters in materializing
seances, who have a good stock of vital energy, as in such phenomena,
a large amount of energy is required. Dematerialization is performed
by methods similar in operation to those in which the psycho-plastic
essence is drawn from the medium. The body of the medium may be reduced
to half its ordinary weight in the materializing room, but in the case
of dematerialization the essence continues to be drawn until the whole
physical body vanishes, and the substance composing it is held in
suspension within the atmosphere, much in the same way as moisture is
held by evaporation. While in this state, Houdini was transferred from
the stage to the retiring room behind, and there almost instantaneously
materialized. The speed with which this dematerialization was performed
is much more rapid than is possible in the materializing seance
room, where time is required for the essence to be crystallized into
psycho-plastic matter. Not only was Houdini’s body dematerialized, but
it was carried through the locked iron tank, thus demonstrating the
passage of matter through matter. This startling manifestation of one
of nature’s profoundest miracles was probably regarded by most of the
audience as a very clever trick.”

With the indulgence of the reader, I may be pardoned perhaps, if I
insist that it is just what I claim it to be--_simply a superior
trick_. The effect is original with me and was invented in the course
of my professional career as a public entertainer, for the sole purpose
of _entertaining_ audiences by mystifying them. My success seems to be
attested by Mr. McKenzie in his acknowledgment that he was deceived
into the belief as to my mediumistic powers; that I dematerialized
my body and material substance, and materialized these things, so
restoring them to a normal condition.

In rebuttal of this misconception I can only say that it is a
demonstration of mal-observation; there was nothing supernatural in
my performance. If I really possessed such abnormal powers as Mr.
McKenzie credits me with, I should be only too ready to prove it for
the enlightenment of a waiting world. I disagree with Mr. McKenzie that
such acknowledgment would displease the “music-hall” or theatrical
managers; on the contrary I am sure they would gladly open their stages
to the demonstration and regard it as good management and showmanship.
As to the performance of Mrs. Thompson of America, and Miss Fay their
work is no more psychic than mine. It is simply another phase of
magical deception, and I stand ready to reproduce such performances in
an emergency.

Regarding the personally conducted tests of my work, by Mr. McKenzie,
he did no more or less than all my committees are privileged to do
while on the stage during my acts. Just as all Spiritualist believers
do, so Mr. McKenzie relied on what he _thought_ he saw, and therefore
failed to affirm or negative his misguided and misdirected vision by
rational application of his conscious intelligence. Had he brought his
reasoning faculties to bear, as all sincere, unbiased investigators
should, he would have discovered the utter inconsistency of his
deductions and never have gone on record as the author of such folly,
without a particle of real evidence with which to substantiate his

Dr. Crawford, whose life was devoted to scientific pursuit and
research, gave the last three years of his life to _investigating_
occult or psychic phenomena, and failed utterly. His mind became
impaired and he ended his own life by suicide, acknowledging that
his brain was overtaxed with abstruse problems. He was so completely
nonplussed and befuddled by the tricks of the Goligher family, that
he gave them publicity as being genuine mediums; and the unfortunate
man died without discovering his own weakness and error. Had he
retained his mental balance a year or two longer, he would have been
disillusioned by his co-worker in science, my friend Mr. E. E. Fournier
d’Albe, the result of whose investigation is to be found elsewhere in
this volume.

The unsuccessful investigations of those I have referred to are typical
of all I have come in contact with or have learned of, and the barrier
to their success has been their perfect willingness to be deceived.
They agree to and tolerate the most absurd propositions as to the
conditions under which the so-called investigations are conducted;
just as they are _fixed_ by the mediums themselves. They acquiesce in
and assist the medium to produce results, and accept such results as
conclusive evidence of the supernatural.

What does it all mean?

What importance can be attached to any one of these supposed phenomena
as proof of the return of departed spirits?



We read in the newspapers of some payroll bandit who holds up the
paymaster of a big concern and steals thousands of dollars, or of
burglars entering homes and stores and breaking open safes and taking
valuable loot, but these cases which we read of are nothing in
comparison to some of the news which never reaches our ears, news of
mediums who, because resourceful in obtaining information have made
millions of dollars; blood money made at the cost of torture to the
souls of their victims.

Suppose a medium comes to your town. He advertises a private seance.
Like the average person you are curious and wish to be told things
about yourself which you honestly believe no one in the world knows not
even your most intimate friend. Perhaps you would like to learn some
facts about a business deal, or know what is to be the outcome of a
love affair, or it may be that you seek the comfort and solace that one
is hungry for after the death of a near one. You go to this medium and
are astounded by the things which are told you about yourself.

I do not claim that I can explain all the methods used by mediums
to obtain this knowledge. A reader might attend a seance where the
medium would use altogether different means to get the facts, but I am
familiar with a great many of the methods of these human vultures. I
think though that it is an insult to that scavenger of scavengers to
compare such human beings to him but there is, to my mind, no other fit

The stock-in-trade of these frauds is the amount of knowledge they can
obtain. It is invaluable and they will stop at nothing to gain it. They
will tabulate the death notices in the newspapers; index the births
and follow up the engagement and marriage notices; employ young men to
attend social affairs and mix intimately with the guests, particularly
the women.

It is seldom that one of these mediums will see a person the day he
calls but will postpone the seance from a day or two to a week or more.
As the person leaves the building he is followed by one of the medium’s
confederates who gathers enough information about him to make the
medium’s powers convincing when the seance is held.

It is a common occurrence for mediums of this stamp to hunt through
the court records of property and mortgages. Cases have been known
where they have employed men to read proof sheets in the press rooms of
newspapers to find material with which to “foretell” events at seances.
They frequently tap telephone wires. It is customary for these mediums
to search letter boxes, steam open the letters, and make copies for
future use. They have been known to buy the old letters sold to paper
mills by big concerns, one useful letter, out of a ton of rubbish,
being enough to pay them a great profit. It is also a common thing for
mediums to “plant” assistants as waiters in restaurants for the purpose
of overhearing conversation, especially in restaurants of the better
class, business clubs, and luncheon clubs, where men of note freely
discuss their plans and secrets, and in the “gilded lobster palaces” of
Broadway and many hotel cabarets in other towns there are men who check
and tabulate the good spenders and who in one way or another, usually
when the victims are under the influence of drink, get into their
confidence and secure information which is sold for money.

My attention was called to a case where it was said that a medium
“planted” clerks in a Metropolitan hotel who would open, read, and
re-seal the letters of guests. The medium was also able to get girls at
the switchboard who intercepted messages and made a typewritten record
of telephone conversations for him.

In many apartment houses the elevator boys, superintendents and
servants are bribed to make a daily report of the inside happenings of
the house. Most of the mediums work in the dark and many of them have
employed expert pickpockets who cleverly take from the sitters’ pockets
letters, names, memorandums, etc., while they are being interviewed.
These are passed to the medium who tells the sitter more or less of
their contents. Having served their purpose they are returned to the
pockets of the sitter who, none the wiser, goes out to help spread
reports of the medium’s wonderful ability. Mediums’ campaigns are
planned a long time ahead. They make trips on steamers gathering,
tabulating and indexing for future reference the information to be
overheard in the intimate stories and morsels of scandals exchanged in
the smoking rooms, card rooms, and ladies’ salons.

A man in a confidential moment told some very intimate secrets of
his business to a chance traveling acquaintance while they sat in
the smoking compartment of a Pullman car. Unfortunately for him this
acquaintance belonged to an unscrupulous gang of mediums who used the
information to blackmail him. These gangs of clairvoyant blackmailers
will stop at nothing. They will move into the apartment house in which
their victim lives and watch his habits. When sure of ample time they
will break into his rooms, not to steal valuables, but information
which nets them far more than the small amount of diamonds and cash
which they might snatch. If it is possible to steal the records of
great political parties how much easier to steal the secret papers
of a family. If you doubt that information leaks out look up some
of the cases that have been brought to the attention of the courts;
cases where papers from secret organizations were missing; where the
most intimate documents have been given publicity. Such information
is far more difficult to obtain than the records of the dead. The Bar
Association protects its reputation by weeding out lawyers who prey
on clients but it cannot so easily discover a dishonest employee in a
lawyer’s office who takes advantage of information which he knows to be
sacred and secret.

Mediums are especially desirous of keeping in touch with disgruntled
employees. There is no limit to what they will do. They have been
known to arrange for the employment of accomplices as domestics and
chauffeurs in families where they were particularly anxious to get
information and have frequently had dictagraphs placed in homes by fake
or disloyal servants and after a month or so of tabulating secrets and
information were prepared for a seance at which the sitters could only
account for the amazing things told them by believing the medium had
occult aid. The result was an unqualified confidence in the mediumistic
powers which in the end cost the sitters an exorbitant sum.

I heard of a medium who employed a quiet couple for the express
purpose of attending funerals, mixing with the mourners, and gathering
information which was eventually turned into gold, and what is known as
a “sure-fire” method is to dress some little woman demurely and place
her in the reception room where she greets the visitors, telling them
her troubles and naturally receiving their confidences in return.

I have even known of two cases in which these human wolves, apparently
out of the kindness of their hearts, sent girls to a young ladies’
seminary where they were able to wheedle from their roommates secrets
which caused the loss of several fortunes.

One of the biggest scoops and one that is talked of in hushed tones
even among the fraud fraternity is that of an old-time circus grafter
who, having been cleaned out in Wall Street, was at his wits’ ends to
make a living. One evening, tired and weary from a day’s unsuccessful
efforts to find honest employment, he overheard his two daughters
discussing a bit of scandal they had listened to in the hairdressing
parlor where they were employed and which compromised a prominent
society woman’s name. The old man pricked up his ears, recognized
the possibilities, and a very short time after invested what little
capital he had and all he could borrow in a beauty parlor and with the
information it furnished him through the aid of his wife and daughters
he was able to set himself up as a medium, the venture yielding
handsomely the first year.

A most novel method of obtaining information was devised by a man who
decided after listening to the conversation in a Turkish bath to open
one himself. Most of his attendants were accomplices and while the
patrons were enjoying the bath their clothes were searched, letters
opened and signatures traced. The end of the first year found him
enjoying a country home in an aristocratic neighborhood.

During one of my engagements in Berlin, Germany, I made the
acquaintance of the foreman of a safe factory who told me that he made
a duplicate key[117] for every safe which passed through his hands and
that he sold these keys to mediums but with the express understanding
that there should be nothing stolen. The mediums assured him that all
they wanted was an opportunity to read the mail and private papers
which the safes contained.

I have known of a number of cases in which the medium used a drug
addict to secure information giving the poor tortured creature his
necessary drug only in return for facts he wanted, knowing that when
the addict was suffering for the drug’s stimulus he would stop at
nothing to secure it.

In small towns “Bible sellers” have sometimes been employed who were
able to get exact dates, names, and birth places which were eventually
used in some form. Men employed by mediums to gather information are
often disguised as agents. One in particular I know of who goes from
house to house trying to sell typewriters and washing machines on the
installment plan. Even if he does not make a sale he can at least
engage the lady of the house in conversation, drawing on her sympathy
by telling of the trials and tribulations of a canvasser and a pitiful
tale of how he was driven to such work and in return usually receiving
the particulars of some similar case among her friends or relatives.
Information which is carefully saved for use in the future.

It has been necessary for the United States Government to assign
special men to break up a band of fake census enumerators, which, going
from neighborhood to neighborhood, secures complete family histories
which are later sold to mediums for large sums of money.

One of the most interesting cases I have heard of lately is that of a
young man who was greatly in debt and sought the advice of a medium.
The medium offered to pay his debts if he in return would take a
position which the medium would secure for him in the Bureau of Records
and in addition to his work furnish the medium with copies of certain
documents. Fear of his debts becoming known to his parents forced him
to accept the offer and the medium got the desired data but before an
improper use could be made of it the young man’s conscience led him to
make a clean breast of the whole affair to the police and a gigantic
fraud was “nipped in the bud.”

The most dastardly and unscrupulous methods that I ever heard of,
methods almost beyond belief, were those used by a medium who made
arrangements with a ring of “white slavers” by which he paid them
a certain specified sum for any information which the “girls” in
their “houses” were able to secure. In addition he also established
a number of places where, under the direction of a woman, the girls
drew out many secrets which would never have been told under any other

One thing which makes the work of these mediums easier is the fact that
many people tell things about themselves without realizing it. I have
known people to deny emphatically that they had made certain statements
or mentioned certain things in a seance although I had personally heard
them say those very things not more than twenty minutes before. Under
the excitement of the moment their subconscious mind[118] speaks while
their conscious mind forgets. This does not escape the medium who takes
advantage of everything which it is possible to.

An incident related to me by the late Harry Kellar shows in a striking
way what can be done with information the possession of which is not
suspected nor its source accounted for by the victim. He had met in
Hong Kong a troupe of travelling players, known as the “Loftus Troupe”
which was featuring Jefferson De Angelus. Among these players was
one, Jim Mass, who, during a discussion of Spiritualism scoffed at
anyone’s belief in it. Kellar told him to visit his hotel the following
night and he would be given a seance. Mass did and Kellar pretended
to go into a deep trance rolling his eyes and imitating all the other
effects. While in the trance he told Mass his history from the time he
ran away from Newark, N. J., relating his trials and tribulations and
his efforts to make a success on the stage up to the time when a young
lady committed suicide in San Francisco because of his jealousy. Then
Kellar turned to him and said:

“What is your name?”

“Jim Mass,” was the answer.

“That is not your right name,” Kellar retorted, “your right name is
James Cropsey!”

“It is a lie,” said Mass.

“No, it is not a lie, for I see before me your name. I see that your
father has just died of a broken heart because of your behaviour. I see
your mother writing you a letter to that effect, begging you to come
home and be her son again. I see the grave of your father and on the
tombstone is inscribed, ‘James Cropsey.’”

Kellar came out of the trance and Mass sprang up exclaiming:

“My God, you have told me things that only the Almighty and I know!”

Kellar claimed to Mass that he did not know anything which had
transpired in the trance. The following day a letter came from Mass’
mother telling him of the death of his father. This fully convinced
him that Kellar had strong mediumistic powers, and to such an extent
that when they met a few days later and Kellar told him that it was
all a fake, Mass refused to believe it.

[Illustration: KELLAR AND HOUDINI]

Kellar explained to me that while in Manila a few weeks previous he had
met an American traveller who, while they were discussing the different
theatrical companies in the Orient, had told him all the incidents he
had repeated to Mass in the supposed trance. This traveller had written
home to Mass’ mother telling her of her son’s whereabouts and therefore
Kellar felt fairly safe in saying that a letter would arrive in a few
days, but in spite of Kellar’s confession Mass continued to believe
firmly that he was a genuine psychic.

Mediums have been known after gaining the sitter’s confidence
sufficiently, to advise, through a Spirit, the purchase of certain
stocks, bonds, or “swamp lands,” and a certain group which I know has
made over a million dollars by this system. One of the keenest and most
unscrupulous of this class, a man who at present is abroad waiting for
things to blow over, had a method which gained him a huge fortune. He
would acquire the confidence of a widow whose husband had not been dead
long and for months he would search into her private affairs without
her knowledge. Then he would arrange for a meeting with her at which he
would mention casually that he was a Spiritualist and that she could
find solace and comfort in Spiritualism. At an impromptu seance he
would tell her so many things of a most intimate character that she
would be convinced. After a series of seances he would materialize
and manifest what was supposedly the Spirit of her husband who would
tell her to turn over certain property and deeds to this medium who
would take care of them in a business-like manner. Invariably the poor
deluded widow would surrender to his machinations and that would be
the last she would ever hear of medium or money.

At a time when it was a British society fad to delve into the affairs
of the beyond a house of clairvoyance was opened in London’s most
exclusive section, the fashionable West End. It was exquisitely
furnished and the interior decorating was the show work of a well-known
firm. Though known as “Madame ----” the proprietor was in reality the
daughter of an English aristocrat. She had formed a partnership with
a man known to society as “Sir ----” and thought of as being simply a
“man about town,” but was in reality the head of a desperate band of
the underworld.

A rich clientele soon became accustomed to a rule which required
sittings to be arranged for at least a week in advance which gave
Madame ---- plenty of time for her confederates to investigate the
client’s affairs. After several sittings the Madame would tell her
client that she was exhausted but could reveal more if allowed to enter
the atmosphere of the home and come in personal contact with some of
the intimate belongings of the client. This hint invariably secured
the desired invitation. Once a guest in the client’s home, she went
from room to room selecting various things and finally suggesting,
at the psychological moment, that she be shown all of the client’s
jewelry. While this was being brought out Madame ---- supposedly went
into a trance but was in reality watching closely to see where the
jewelry was kept. Back in her own home again she at once got in touch
with Sir ---- giving him such detailed information about the client’s
house that it was easy for him to plan its successful robbery by his
men, while the victims never suspected how their secret hiding places
had been discovered. It only took the pair five years to acquire a
fortune of three million dollars by these methods. Then Scotland Yard
became suspicious of their actions and in a search for a more congenial
climate they came to America and began working their system in New York.

Sir ---- learned through underworld channels of a rich eccentric who
would have nothing to do with banks and safe deposit vaults but kept
all his money and valuables in his home where he boasted so many
burglar alarms and other protective devices as to practically dare
thieves to rob him. After making sure that this man had very strong
Spiritualistic tendencies Madame ---- wrote him a letter in which
she told him that she had been requested by the spirit of his dead
brother to get into communication with him. An interview followed and
then a seance at which the brother’s spirit was claimed to have been
materialized. The man was so convinced that he had received a message
from his brother that the instructions to safeguard his money and
valuables by placing them in a certain bank were followed implicitly
even to the extent of taking them to the president (?) of the bank at
his home instead of going to the bank with them. It is needless to say
that the “bank president” was none other than Sir ----. This exploit
netted them about four hundred thousand dollars. Not long after they
appeared in Paris. Madame ---- proceeded to dupe a jeweler out of a
quantity of valuable jewels and with Sir ---- succeeded in escaping to
Germany where they tried to repeat the performance but were arrested.

The majority of the people who are fleeced do not blame the medium but
really believe that the Spirit of their departed one prescribed the
loss and that the medium simply acted as an agent. It is only when
the mediums fall out; when there ceases to be “honor among thieves”
that the cases are brought to the attention of the police. Although I
realize that it would be difficult to enforce, there should be a law to
prevent these frauds, for as the result of investigation I know that
this particular line has netted many millions of dollars from unwary,
trusting, and believing people. An end ought to be put to it.



There is an old adage that “truth is stranger than fiction” but some
of the miraculous things attributed to the Spirits would not be told,
could not be told, even by such a famous writer of wild fiction as
Baron Munchausen, but under the protecting mantle of Spiritualism these
vivid tales are believed by millions. The conglomerated things you are
asked to accept in good faith are almost inconceivable. If you do not
then you are not a real Spiritualist. There must not be the shadow of
a doubt in your mind as to the truth of the extravagant feats claimed
to be performed by the Spirits through their earthly messengers the

Among the spirits who have come back and written stories, according
to the Spiritualists, are no less personages than Shakespeare, Bacon,
Charles Dickens who completed his “Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Jack
London, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, and lately Oscar Wilde. Magazines
have been published by the “Spirits”[119] and there are numbers of
cases where entire books have been claimed to be their work. I ask the
reader if he believes the following incidents which I have selected
from various Spiritualistic publications in my library. If so he is
entitled to join the cult.

The “Medium and Daybreak” of June 9, 1871, tells of an instance where
“The Spirits ‘floated’ Mr. Herne to Mrs. Guppy’s in open day as was
reported by us two weeks ago.... This has been speedily followed by
other cases some of which are exceedingly well substantiated. On
Saturday evening, as a circle consisting of about nine persons, sat
within locked doors, with Messrs. Herne and Williams, at these mediums’
lodgings, 61 Lambs’ Conduit Street, after a considerable time an object
was felt to come upon the table, and when a light was struck, their
visitor was found to be Mrs. Guppy. She was not by any means dressed
for an excursion, as she was without shoes, and had a memorandum book
in one hand and a pen in the other.

“The last word inscribed in the book was ‘onions.’ The writing was
not yet dry and there was ink on the pen. When Mrs. Guppy regained
her consciousness she stated that she had been making some entries of
expenses, became insensible and knew nothing until she found herself
in the circle. A party of gentlemen accompanied Mrs. Guppy home; a
deputation went in first and questioned Miss Neyland as to how or when
Mrs. Guppy had been missed. She said that she had been sitting in the
same room; Mrs. Guppy was making entries in her book, and Miss Neyland
was reminding her of the items to put down. Miss Neyland was reading
a newspaper in the intervals of conversation, and when she raised her
head from her reading Mrs. Guppy could not be seen. It was intimated,
through raps on the table, that the Spirits had taken her, and as Mrs.
Guppy had every confidence in the beneficence of these agents, Mrs.
Guppy’s abduction gave no concern. Both Mr. Herne and Mr. Williams were
‘floated’ the same evening. Mr. Williams found himself at the top of
the stairs, the doors being shut all the while.

“At the seance at the Spiritual Institution, a young lady who was a
sceptic was levitated. At Messrs. Herne and Williams’ seance, at the
same place, a geranium in a pot was brought into the room from the
staircase window above, while doors and windows were closed. Mrs. Burns
had a knife taken out of her hand, which ‘Katie’ (the Spirit) said she
would deposit at Lizzie’s, meaning Mrs. Guppy. A gentleman had two
spirit photographs taken from his hand. A cushion was carried from the
front room to the back room, where the seance was held, the door being
shut. Mr. Williams’ coat was taken off while his hands were held. Mr.
Herne was floated. Mr. Andrews, a gentleman who has not the use of his
limbs, held a very interesting conversation with ‘Katie’ who promised
to try and benefit him. The generous sympathy of these good spirits was
very apparent from their eagerness to help the distressed. A letter
from Northampton intimates that similar phenomena are being produced in
that town. These feats are doing a mighty work in convincing hundreds
of the power.

“At a seance given by Mrs. Guppy (‘Medium and Daybreak,’ November
18, 1870), the Spirits knowing it was tea time, first of all brought
through the solid wall the dishes and placed them on the table, then
transported cake and hot tea, and in the center of the table was placed
violets, mignonette, geranium leaves and fern leaves, all wet with
rain, which had been gathered by the Spirits.

“Herne, with whom Williams was associated, made it his business to have
his Spirits bring in the slates from the hallway through the closed
door. He had books ooze through the solid floors, from the library
overhead, and drop on the seance table. Williams would be entranced in
the cabinet and the Spirits would disrobe him much to his ‘entranced’

On the testimony of Orville Pitcher, John King at a seance stood in
the full glare of the daylight for twenty minutes. He then retired
and was followed by no less a personage than Oliver Cromwell, who
walked around, embraced his medium and all the sitters. He afterwards
controlled the medium and gave utterance to thoughts of a most elevated

“Mrs. Catherine Berry goes on record (‘Medium and Daybreak,’ July 9,
1876) that through the mediumship of Mrs. Guppy she had seen the Sultan
of Zanzibar on the previous day. “He had a handsome copper-colored face
and a large black beard, on his head he had a white turban such as worn
by the Spirit of John King.”

“Dr. Monck, ex-preacher, disappeared one night from the bed in which he
slept with another man in Bristol and to his surprise, when he awoke,
found himself in Swindon.” (_Spiritualism_, by Joseph McCabe.)

“Mr. Harris, his wife and a friend, who happened to be a medium, were
just about to sit down to a mid-day meal when the medium, a man named
Wilkinson, was suddenly ‘controlled.’ He fought hard against this
unexpected behaviour of his Spirit control, but to no avail. In his
unconscious state he jangled money in his pocket, then pointed to a
cigarette box which was lying on a shelf in the opposite corner. In
that box, it seemed, was the sum of 17s, 6d. Mr. and Mrs. Harris were
wondering what this all meant, when suddenly the box virtually flew
from the shelf, passed through the closed door, and was gone. Mrs.
Harris immediately left the room and tried to find trace of the box.
intact.” (_An Amazing Seance and an Exposure_, _by_ Sidney A. Mosley,
page 21.)

At a seance held on February 15, 1919, at the home of Mr. Wallace
Penylan at Cardiff, by Mr. Thomas, there were present Sir Arthur, Lady
Doyle, and others, numbering about twenty in all. “Thomas, speaking
from his chair (apparently still under control) then asked, ‘Is Lady
Doyle cold?’ Then Lady Doyle said she felt ‘a little bit shivery’
and Thomas said, ‘Oh, you’ll be warm soon,’ and in a second or two
something fell on her lap. At the close of the seance, this was found
to be the Holland jacket which somehow had been removed from the
medium.” (_An Amazing Seance_, page 51.)

Most mediums to-day have perfected the art of levitating tables and
chairs and other pieces of furniture, though I doubt if any of them
have ever reached the mark of perfection attained by Palladino with her
years of experience, inscrutable face and uncanny knowing when to seize
opportunities to fool her investigators, but you are also asked to
believe that Daniel Dunglas Home, floated out of one window, over the
street, and rushed through another one into a different room.

Col. Olcott asks in “Communication” What is this performance compared
with the experience of Webster Eddy (a younger brother of the Eddy
Brothers) when a grown man, in the presence of three reputable
witnesses, was carried out of a window and over the top of a house and
landed in a ditch a quarter of a mile distant?

“William Eddy was carried bodily to a distant wood and was kept there
three days under control and was carried back again.

“Horatio Eddy was taken bodily three miles to a mountain top and was
obliged to find his way home alone the next morning.

“In Lyceum Hall, Buffalo, Horatio was levitated for twenty-six
consecutive evenings, while bound to a chair and he and the chair were
hung on a chandelier hook in the ceiling. He was then lowered safely to
his former position.

“Mary Eddy was raised to the ceiling in Hope Chapel, in New York City,
and while there wrote her name. Her little boy, Warren, was floated
many evenings in dark circles and squealed lustily all the while to be
let down.

“Since 1347 authenticated reports prove that similar experiences
occurred to Edward Irving, Margaret Rule, St. Philip of Neri, St.
Catherine of Columbine, Loyola, Savonarola, Jennie Lord, Madame Hauffe
and many others.”

Col. Olcott omitted mentioning myself. I stand ready to vouch for the
fact that I personally floated in the air and _levitated_ many times
and marvelled at the ease with which I did it, but I woke up later in
the night.

Horatio Eddy in a personal letter to me under date of July 6, 1920,

“A book six inches thick would not hold my history. I cannot give
any version of our floating in the air, but it is just as stated in
‘Communication.’ Webster Eddy is my youngest brother. My father did put
live coals on William’s head and poured hot water down his back. We all
used to get horsewhipped by him to prove the devil was in us.”[120]

In another letter dated July 3, 1922, he writes that he and his sister
had been giving a joint exhibition with Ira Erastus Davenport, who had
been ordered by the authorities in Syracuse to take out a juggler’s
license, but would not.

“The result was while we were holding a private seance we were
handcuffed and taken to jail; on the way the handcuffs were taken off.
We did not ride to jail but were dragged along through the snow for
more than a mile. They did not put us in cells, as I told them if they
did I would have every prisoner’s door open before daylight, so two
police sat up all night with us. In the morning a Mr. McDonald of 7
Beach Street went our bail for fifteen thousand dollars.

“Our trial was to be held in Schenectady in March. We arrived there and
had to wait three weeks, then they put it over to Albany three months
later and our bail was renewed. We stayed in Albany until court was
almost through. The day our trial was to take place the judge stated we
claimed it to be a phase of religion and ruled it out of court.”

If you are to be a Spiritualist you must believe that fifteen persons,
several of them reporters, met in Mrs. Young’s parlors in 27th Street,
New York City, and at the request of the Spirit several English walnuts
were placed near the piano, and that the piano rose and descended on
the walnuts without crushing them. Col. Olcott writes that seven of the
heaviest persons in the room were asked to sit upon the instrument. The
invitation being accepted Mrs. Young played a march and the instrument
and the persons surmounting it were lifted several feet.

“A portfolio containing Eliza White’s Katie King note and John’s
duplicate was at this time in my coat pocket, where it had been
constantly since the preceding evening. John broke in upon our
expressions of surprise by rapping out ‘Do you folks want me to commit
forgery for you? I can bring you here the blank check of any National
Bank and sign upon it the name of any president, cashier or other
official.’ I thanked his Invisible Highness and declined the favor upon
the sufficient ground that the police did not believe in Spiritualism
and I did not care to risk the chance of convincing them in case the
forged papers should be found in my possession.” (_People from the
Other World_, Henry S. Olcott, page 458.)

“In a house on Ferretstone Road, Hornsey, London, explosions like bombs
were heard, lumps of coal were propelled by some unknown agency in
all directions. Brooms were thrown violently from a landing into the
kitchen. Glass and china had been smashed and windows broken and to top
it all off a boy sitting on a chair had been raised with the chair from
the ground.” (The _London Evening News_, Feb. 15, 1921.)

Vincenzo Gullots, a Sicilian violinist at Batavia, Ill., well known
by reason of his Chautauqua concerts, decided to take a bride chosen
for him after death “by the companion of my most thrilling hours, my
departed wife. She died in August and I was almost frantic with grief
but in the night I could sense her presence and I followed her guidance
implicitly. My new mate will comfort her.” (The _New York World_, May
17, 1922.)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in an interview at the Hotel Ambassador, New
York City, as reported by the _New York World_, April 11, 1922, stated
that “in ‘Summerland’ marriage is on a higher and more spiritual plane
than here and is merely the mating of affinities, who are always
happy. No babies are born however. The spirits as they go about their
daily tasks, keep a watchful eye on earthly matters and are extremely
interested in the births here.”

He stated that there is a plane called “Paradise” where “normally
respectable” persons go after death and this “plane” is only slightly
removed from this earthly sphere. Bad people when they die are
transported to a plane considerably lower than that tenanted by
respectable ones and they continue to sink lower and lower unless they
repent. After a considerable probationary period they are able to climb
into “Paradise.” The average length of time they stay in “Paradise” is
about forty years after which they float to higher and still higher
planes. All mediums have guardian angels to whom they are especially
subject, but they can communicate with other Spirits, the “guardian
angel” acting as a sort of master-of-ceremonies upon such occasions.

Sir Arthur proclaimed that he once saw his dead mother’s face in the
ectoplasm of a medium. This was a few months after her death and he
added, “There was not the slightest question about it. That was while I
was in Australia. The face seemed as solid as in life. My mother wrote
me a letter through the medium signing a pet name,[121] which could not
have been known to the medium. There is no question about having been
in communication with my son either.”

An account in the _New York American_, April 5, 1923, says that Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle told the reporters that he had recently hurt the
ligaments in his right leg from the shin to the thigh, and that his son
Kingsley who had died in the War had massaged the limb with beneficial
results: “I was sitting with Evan Powell, a very unusual and powerful
medium,” he said, “when my son Kingsley appeared, saying ‘it will be
alright, Daddy; I will get you fixed up alright,’ and began massaging
my leg.”

In an article in the _London Magazine_, August, 1920, Mr. C. W.
Leadbeater, a prominent member of the Theosophical Society and an
authority on occult theories, speaking of the apport of Spirits says:
“living astrally as they do, the Fourth Dimension is a commonplace fact
of their nature, and this makes it quite simple for them to do many
little tricks which to us appear wonderful, such as the removal of
articles from a locked box or an apport of flowers into a closed room.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his book “Wanderings of a Spiritualist,”
devotes seven pages to Charles Bailey, who was known as an “apport
medium.” Sir Arthur defends Bailey, notwithstanding that he has been
exposed many times.[122] Among the things Bailey claims to have
apported are birds, oriental plants, small animals, and a young shark
eighteen inches long which he pretended the Spirit guides had brought
from India and passed through the walls into the seance room.

Mrs. Johnson of Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, told me personally that the
Spirit of her deceased son was very mischievous at times and caused
her a great deal of embarrassment. One of his favorite jokes when she
was on a journey was to open her travelling bag and allow all her
belongings to be strewn about. She also told me that the boy’s Spirit
would light the fire for her to get breakfast.

A widow in Brooklyn, N. Y., became a mother and claimed that the
Spirit of her husband was the father of the child.

The celebrated Professor Hare, a professor of chemistry in the
University of Pennsylvania, graduate of Yale and Harvard, and
associated with the Smithsonian Institute of Washington, tells that
when travelling with a boy and while in his room, after they had locked
up the iron Balled Spiritscope, shaving case, etc., in his carpet bag,
in some inscrutable manner all the contents were taken from the bag and
fell about him in a shower.

Anna Stuart, a medium of Terre Haute, could produce Spirits that would
weigh from practically nothing to more than a hundred pounds, and
Spiritualists are expected to believe that one human being can go into
a trance and bring forth three or four beings with his own Spirit form.
W. T. Stead, one of the most brilliant Spiritualists, now dead, claimed
to have seen the Spirit of an Egyptian who left the “earthly life” in
the time of Semir-Amide, three thousand years ago. “For several minutes
the Spirit was distinctly visible to us munching an apple, but I felt
so exhausted by the loss of magnetism and nervous as well that I begged
him to leave us. I will never forget his soulful expression.”

Florence Marryat, the daughter of Capt. Marryat, the famous writer of
sea stories, has written a number of books on Spiritualism. She wrote
one of the best introductions in favor of Spiritualism that I ever
read, nevertheless some of the things she claims to have witnessed
and lived through are of such a nature that I will only give a brief
mention of them without comment, letting the reader form his own
opinion. They are taken from her book “There is no Death.”

She tells of her brother-in-law coming into the room after rifle
practice and while showing his rifle it was “accidentally discharged,
the ball passing through the wall within two inches of my eldest
daughter’s head.” She claims that she foresaw the occurrence the night

She writes of having joined Mr. d-Oyley Carte’s “Patience” company to
play the part of Lady Jane, and tells that the different members of the
company on different occasions mentioned the fact that although she was
standing on the stage she appeared to be seated in the stalls. This
always occurred at the same time, just before the end of the second act.

In another place she says: “We unanimously asked for flowers. It being
December and a hard frost, simultaneously we smelt the smell of fresh
earth, and we were told to light the gas again, when the following
extraordinary sight met our eyes. In the middle of the sitters, still
holding hands, was piled up on the carpet an immense quantity of mold,
which had been torn up apparently with the roots that accompanied it.
There were laurestenius, laurels and holly and several others, just as
they had been pulled out of the earth and thrown in the midst of us.
Mrs. Guppy looked anything but pleased at the sight of her carpet and
begged the Spirits to bring cleaner things next time. They then told
us to extinguish the lights again and each sitter was to wish mentally
for something for himself. I wished for a yellow butterfly, knowing it
was December, and as I thought of it a little cardboard box was put in
my hand. Prince Albert whispered to me ‘Have you got anything?’ ‘Yes,’
I said, ‘but not what I asked for. I expect they have given me a piece
of jewelry.’ When the gas was relit I opened the box and there lay _two
yellow butterflies_, dead of course, but none the less extraordinary
for that.”

While talking of a seance with Katie King she said: “She told me
to take the scissors and cut off her hair. She had a profusion of
ringlets flowing to her waist that night. I obeyed religiously, hacking
the hair wherever I could whilst she kept on saying ‘_Cut more! cut
more! not for yourself you know, because you cannot take it away._’ So
I cut off curl after curl and as fast as they fell to the ground, _the
hair grew again on her head_. When I had finished, ‘Katie’ asked me to
examine her hair and see if I could detect any place where I had used
the scissors, and I did so without any effect. Neither was a severed
hair to be found. It had vanished out of sight.”

In another place she says: “Once a conductor spoke to me. ‘I am not
aware of your name,’ he said (and I thought ‘No, my friend, and won’t
be aware of it just yet either!’) ‘but a Spirit here wishes you would
come up to the cabinet.’ I advanced, expecting to see some friend, and
there stood a Catholic priest, with his hand extended in blessing.
I knelt down and he gave me the usual benediction, and then closed
the curtain. ‘Did you know the Spirit?’ the conductor asked me. I
shook my head and he continued, ‘He was Father Hayes, the well known
priest in this city. I suppose you are a Catholic?’ I told him ‘Yes’
and went back to my seat. The conductor addressed me again ‘I think
Father Hayes must have come to pave the way for some of your friends,’
he said. ‘Here is a Spirit who says she has come for a lady by the
name of Florence, who has just crossed the sea. Do you answer to that
description?’ I was about to say yes when the curtain parted again
and my daughter ‘Florence’ ran across the room and fell into my arms.
‘Mother,’ she exclaimed, ‘I said I would come with you and look after
you, didn’t I?’ I looked at her. She was exactly the same in appearance
as when she came to me in England under the different mediumships of
Florence Cook, Arthur Coleman, Charles Williams and William Ellington.”

She tells of a business man who attended a seance every night and
presented a white flower to the Spirit of his wife who had died on
her wedding day eleven years before.[123] The book is full of such
incidents as these but I think enough have been repeated to show the
reader what it is necessary to believe to be a good Spiritualist.[124]

In Judge Edmonds’ book “Spiritualism,” we read that it was customary
to receive on blank sheets of paper messages from the Spirits of
well-known men; that Benjamin Franklin came in accompanied by two other
Spirits; that a pencil got up of its own accord and wrote five lines
of ancient Hebrew; that books were levitated from a table numerous
times, and a number of other incidents which drew upon the reader’s

Daniel Dunglas Home in testifying in July, 1869, as reported in
the _London Times_, told of an incident which had occurred several
years previous. “We were,” he said, “in a large room in the Salon de
Quatorze. The Emperor and Empress were present,--I am now telling the
story as I heard the Emperor tell it,--a table was moved, then a hand
was seen to come. It was a very beautifully formed hand. There were
pencils on the table. It lifted, not the one next to it, but the one on
the far side. We heard the sound of writing, and saw it writing on fine
note paper. The hand passed before me and went to the Emperor, and he
kissed the hand. It went to the Empress; she withdrew from its touch,
and the hand followed her. The Emperor said, ‘Do not be frightened,’
and she kissed it too. The hand seemed to be like a person thinking
and as if it were saying, ‘Why should I?’ It came back to me. It had
written the word ‘Napoleon’ and it remains written now. The writing
was the autograph of the Emperor Napoleon I, who had an exceedingly
beautiful hand.” Mr. Home also said that the Emperor of Russia as well
as the Emperor Napoleon, had seen hands and had taken hold of them,
“when they seemed to float away into thin air.”

Such are the things Spiritualists are expected to believe and do
believe. I could continue to recite incidents _ad infinitum_, _ad
nauseam_, but I believe the reader can form his own judgment from the
above. It is the kind of material which drives people insane for when
some poor, sick, human being is just on the verge of recovery such
nonsensical utterances often overthrow reason. Is it any wonder that
the population of our insane asylums is swelled with “followers” who
have attempted to believe these things?



The alacrity with which Spiritualists seize upon letters or other
statements of magicians that they believe the so-called spirit
manifestations which they have witnessed were not accomplished by
means of legerdemain but were attributable to supernatural or occult
powers has astonished me and while I intend to refute them I want to
call attention at the same time to the incompetence of the opinion of
the ordinary magician with a knowledge of two or three experiments
in Spiritualism who stands up and claims that he can duplicate the
experiments of any medium who ever lived.

My personal opinion is that notwithstanding the fact that innumerable
exposures have been successfully made, such fact is no proof that any
investigator, legerdemain artist or otherwise, is fully capable of
fathoming each and every effect produced.

Some magicians with a knowledge of pseudo-Spiritualistic effects
imagine that they have all they need to qualify them as investigators,
and should anything transpire at a seance which they cannot explain
they are mystified into temporary belief and write letters or make
statements which they are quite likely to regret as the years roll

A good card “shark” or “brace game”[126] gambler can cheat and fleece
the slickest sleight-of-hand performer that ever lived, unless the
performer has made a specialty of gambling tricks. It seems strange,
but it is true, that card magicians are poor gamblers, and mediums,
like the gamblers, resort to deception and take advantage of the
sitters at all angles.

It is manifestly impossible to detect and duplicate all the feats
attributed to fraudulent mediums who do not scruple at outraging
propriety and even decency to gain their ends. A slick medium will
even resort to drawing on the sitters[127] for desired information by
recourse to what may be palmed off for a mere lark, and if the bait
is swallowed by the sitter the circumstance is turned to good account
for the perpetration of deliberate fraud to his consternation and

Again many of the effects produced by mediums are impulsive, spasmodic,
done on the spur of the moment, inspired or promoted by the attending
circumstances, and could not be duplicated by themselves. Because the
circumstances of their origin and performance are so peculiar detection
and duplication of Spiritualistic phenomena is sometimes a most complex
task. Not only are mediums alert to embrace every advantage offered
by auto-suggestion but they also take advantage of every accidental
occurrence. For instance, my greatest feat of mystery was performed in
1922 at Seacliffe, L. I., on the Fourth of July, at the home of Mr.
B. M. L. Ernest. The children were waiting to set off their display
of fireworks when it started to rain. The heavens fairly tore loose.
Little Richard in his dismay turned to me and said:

“Can’t you make the rain stop?”

“Why certainly,” I replied and raising my hands said appealingly, “Rain
and Storm, I command you to stop.”

This I repeated three times and, as if by miracle, within the next two
minutes the rain stopped and the skies became clear. Toward the end
of the display of fireworks the little fellow turned to me and with a
peculiar gleam in his eyes said:

“Why, Mr. Houdini, it would have stopped raining anyway.”

I knew I was risking my whole life’s reputation with the youngster but
I said:

“Is that so? I will show you.”

Walking out in front I raised my hands suppliantly toward the heavens
and with all the command and force I had in me called:

“Listen to my voice, great Commander of the rain, and once more let the
water flow to earth and allow the flowers and trees to bloom.”

A chill came over me for as if in response to my command or the prayer
of my words another downpour started, but despite the pleading of the
children I refused to make it stop again. I was not taking any more

I am also aware of the fact that there are effects produced by
magicians which they declare are accomplished by natural agencies,
which other magicians are entirely unable to account for or
satisfactorily explain. A notable case was a card performance by
Dr. Samuel C. Hooker which included the levitation of a life-sized
head of an animal, possessed of life-like movement while in a state
of suspension and still there were no visible means of support. A
number of these seances were given to groups of magicians only. On one
occasion a dozen or more of the most expert professional magicians
were in attendance, but no one could offer a satisfactory solution.

Many magical mysteries as practised for entertainment are just as
incomprehensible as so-called Spiritualistic Phenomena and it is not
to be wondered at that even minds trained to analytical thinking are
deceived and misguided. Were I at a seance and not able to explain
what transpired it would not necessarily be an acknowledgment that I
believed it to be genuine Spiritualism. The fact that I have mystified
many does not signify that what I have done, though unexplainable to
them, was done by the help of the Spirits. Mr. Kellar frequently,
particularly during the last two years of his appearance on the stage,
said to the audience:

“Do not be ashamed if I mystify you; I have seen Houdini and his work
and I do not know how he does it.”

The simple fact that a thing looks mysterious to one does not signify
anything beyond the necessity of analytic investigation for a fuller
understanding. But to return to possibilities; I believe that the
great majority of so-called manifestations can be duplicated but I am
not prepared to include all, because, as before explained, some are
spontaneous, and cannot be reproduced by the mediums themselves unless
the identical opportunity should present itself, which is as uncertain
as lightning striking twice in the same place--possible but improbable.

It would be extremely difficult, if not out of the question, to
reproduce much of the “phenomena” by description as given by those who
have witnessed it. The lapse of time and the fact that a story twice
told never loses, renders such reproduction extremely doubtful. Were
I to be challenged to duplicate any particular phase as presented by
a medium, permission would have to be granted to allow me not less
than three demonstrations. At the first, not wishing to accept any
one’s word as to what happened I should want to see the manifestation
so that there would be no surprise attack on my mind afterwards. At
the second sitting I would be prepared to watch what I had seen at the
first sitting and the third time I would try to completely analyze
for duplication. It might be that some peculiar formation or years
of special practice enabled the medium to do a certain action and
naturally it would require at least three seances to become thoroughly
cognizant of the _modus operandi_, or the manipulative process used.
If there were no fraud, then there could be no objection to the

Let us dissect a few of the magician’s statements. First: Belachini,
conjuror to the imperial German Court, is claimed by Spiritualists as
a great magician countenancing and acknowledging the genuineness of
Spiritualism, but by no possible stretch of imagination could he be
so classed despite the efforts of modern Spiritualists to prove that
he was, for the very nature of his tricks belie his statement. No
present day magician would permit him to be mentioned as an authority
on Spiritualism notwithstanding the fact that Spiritualists are trying
to prove from his letters that he was, just as they have ever since the
letters were written.

I have received reports from Karl Wilmann, of Hamburg; A. Herman, of
Berlin, and Rosner of Haisenhaid, to the effect that Belachini was
solely an apparatus or mechanical conjuror with an adroit and daring
address. In fact, his unbounded self-confidence won him the position
for which he is famous. He was performing for Kaiser Wilhelm I. who sat
amazed at his suave dexterity. The climax of the performance came when
Belachini, bowing, proffered a pen to Wilhelm.

“Take this, your Majesty,” he requested, “and attempt to write with
it. I warn you it is a magical pen and subject only to my control; I
can write anything with it or cause anything to be written; you cannot.”

Wilhelm laughingly took the pen with a confident mien, hiding his real
awe of Belachini. He applied it to the paper before him but in spite
of his most careful efforts, the pen balked, spluttering and splashing
ink, while Belachini stood by smiling.

“Well,” said the Kaiser, “tell me what to write.”

Belachini reflectively caressed his chin, then replied with a dry smile:

“Write this. I hereby appoint Belachini Court Conjuror.”

The monarch chuckled at the wit and without difficulty wrote and signed
the order.

A second, famous in his day, was “Herr Alexander,” a magician whose
full name was Alexander Heinberger. He gave seances at the White House
for President Polk who sent him to South America once on a man-of-war.
The President was willing to believe that Heinberger was guided and
aided by the Spirits but Heinberger would neither affirm nor deny
the suspected origin of his feats but like a good showman left his
observers to their own deductions as was the practice of the Davenport
Brothers. He lived to be ninety years old, and was a most remarkable
old man. I visited him at his home in Munster, Westphalia.

Sometimes a misunderstanding entangles a magician with Spiritualism.
The following instance comes to my mind. It is a popular belief among
Spiritualists that certain letters and statements bearing the signature
of Robert Houdin are acknowledgments of his belief in Spiritualism.
On the contrary they refer simply to certain acts of clairvoyance
purported to have taken place at the instance of one Alexis Didier.
The first statement has been translated as an interview of considerable
length which is concluded as follows:

    “Ah, Monsieur (Alexis Didier, as addressed by Houdin), that
    may seem so to a man of no experience in these matters, to the
    ordinary person,--though even then such a mistake is hardly
    admissible,--but to the expert! Just consider, Monsieur, that
    all my cards are faked, marked, often of unequal sizes, or
    at least artistically arranged. Again I have my signals and
    telegraphs. But in this case a fresh pack was used which I
    had just taken out of its wrapper, and which the somnambulist
    cannot have studied. There is another point, where deception
    is impossible, namely, in the handling of the cards: in the
    one case, the entire artlessness of the performance, in the
    other, that tell-tale air of effort which nothing can entirely
    disguise. Add to this his total blindness, for need I insist on
    the impossibility--the absolute impossibility--of his having
    seen. _Besides, even supposing he could see, how can we account
    for the other phenomena?_ With regard to my own ‘second-sight’
    performances, without being able to divulge my secret to you
    now, bear in mind that I am careful to tell you every evening,
    that I only promise a _second_ sight! Consequently in my case a
    first sight is indispensable.

    “The following day Robert Houdin gave me (Alexis Didier) the
    following signed statement:

    “‘While I am by no means inclined to accept the compliments
    which M---- is kind enough to pay me, and while I am
    particularly anxious that my signature should not be held
    to prejudice in any way my opinion, either for or against
    magnetism, still I cannot refrain from affirming that the
    incidents recorded above are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT, _and that the
    more I think about them the more impossible I find it to class
    them with those which form the subject of my profession and of
    my performances_.

                                                  “‘Robert Houdin.
    “‘May 4th, 1847.’”

It will be seen at a glance that the signature in this case refers to
a mystification by card handling, clairvoyance, forecasting, etc. His
second letter was written a fortnight later and is as follows:

    “Monsieur, (Alexis Didier) as I informed you, I was anxious
    to have a second sitting. This sitting which was held at
    Marcillet’s house yesterday proved even more extraordinary
    than the first, and has left me without a shadow of a doubt as
    to the clairvoyance of Alexis. I went to this seance, fully
    determined to keep a careful watch on the game of _écarté_,
    which had astounded me so much before. This time I took much
    greater precautions than at the first seance, for distrusting
    myself I took a friend, whose natural imperturbability enabled
    him to form a cool judgment and helped me to steady mine. I
    append an account of what took place, and you will see that
    trickery could never have produced such results as those which
    I am about to recount.

    “I undo a pack of cards, which I had brought with me in a
    marked wrapper to guard against another pack being substituted
    for it. I shuffle and it is my deal. I deal with every
    precaution known to a man well up in all the dodges of his
    profession. It is all of no use, Alexis stops me, and pointing
    to one of the cards that I had just placed in front of him on
    the table, says:

    “‘I’ve got the King.’

    “‘But you can’t possibly know yet; the trump card has not been
    turned up.’

    “‘You will see,’ he replies. ‘Go on.’

    “As a matter of fact I turn up the eight of Diamonds, and his
    was the King of Diamonds. The game was continued in an odd
    enough manner, for he told me the cards I had to play, though
    my cards were hidden under the table and held close together in
    my hands. To each lead of mine he played one of his own cards
    without turning it up, and it was always the right card to have
    played against mine. I left this seance then in the greatest
    possible state of amazement, and convinced of the utter
    impossibility of chance or conjuring having been responsible
    for such marvellous results.--Yours, etc.,

                                   (Signed)  “Robert Houdin,
                                           “16th May, 1847.”

I here embrace the opportunity to make a correction of a statement in
“The Unmasking of Robert Houdin” (page 287). The record and source of
information at that time was published in Berlin, Germany. It gave the
impression that the “letters” cited above referred to Spiritualistic
phenomena, but now, having come into possession of a true translation
of these documents complete, as published by the Society for Psychical
Research,[128] I am of the opinion that Houdin did treat the subject of
Spiritualism with conservative prudence and impartiality, as recorded
by Professor Hoffmann.

But I wish to say that in my estimation of Robert Houdin, despite
his wonderful reputation and record as mentioned in Larousse’s
Encyclopedia, I cannot agree with his statements, because he
misrepresented so much in his “Memoirs of a Magician.” In “The
Unmasking of Robert Houdin” I devoted a whole chapter to his ignorance
of magic and by investigating I have found that he was not competent as
an investigator of the claims of Spiritualists.

It came quite as a shocking surprise to me to find that the letters
which were supposed to refer to Spiritualistic seances, and which
have been quoted so often as being such, refer only to his experience
with Alexis the clairvoyant. It must be apparent, even to the casual
observer, that they have no bearings whatsoever on Spiritualism, but
refer only to sittings with a clairvoyant in a game of sharp card
practice. Knowing, as I do now, what it all meant, the fact that he
wrote the letters does not surprise me in the least. I believe a lot of
things transpired in that room which he could not see, or know whether
there was confederacy, for clairvoyants as well as mediums often get
information from the most unexpected sources. Clairvoyance, like
Spiritualism, was not in the direct line of professional observation to
Robert Houdin. What would he or any of his confreres, who were supposed
to be adepts at that time, say if they could visit a seance of some of
our present day clairvoyants who are appearing before the public and
making use of radio, wireless, induction coils, etc.? What a wonderful
bunch of letters they might write because of the simple fact that they
could not tell how the effects were produced. It is ridiculous for
any magician to say that the work he witnesses is not accomplished by
conjuring or legerdemain simply because he cannot solve the problem.

As to his qualifications for adjudging the work of a clairvoyant, we
have but to revert to his own narration of the origin and development
of second-sight as used by himself. This account can be found in the
English edition of his Memoirs:

“My two children were playing one day in the drawing-room at a game
they had invented for their own amusement; the younger had bandaged his
elder brother’s eyes and made him guess the objects that he touched,
and when later he guessed right they changed places. This simple
game suggested to me the most complicated idea that ever crossed my
mind. Pursued by the notion, I ran and shut myself in my workshop, and
was fortunately in that happy state when the mind follows easily the
combinations traced by fancy. I rested my head in my hands, and in my
excitement laid down the first principles of second sight.”

It is hard to reconcile this statement with truth in view of the
fact that memory training, as he describes it, was in vogue and
practised long before[129] his time and is not the way second sight is
learned. It could not have been discovered or invented by him except
coincidentally by his utter lack of knowledge bearing on the methods of
seership and clairvoyance as practised either in his time or antiquity.
Let me explain clearly, and I hope once for all, the valuelessness of
his letters as far as they relate to Spiritualism and clairvoyance.

In the first place the blindfold test[130] as produced by Alexis Didier
to mystify Houdin. Putting cotton on the eyes and covering it with a
handkerchief is now used by amateurs in the cheapest kind of what we
term “muscle reading.” There is not the slightest difficulty in seeing
beneath such a bandage, sometimes over it, and the range of vision can
easily be determined by a test. In Paris I saw a mysterious performer,
named Benoval, who had his eyes glued together with adhesive paper, on
top of it cotton was placed, and over the cotton a handkerchief, but he
danced around bottles and burning candles without any difficulty.

Regarding the information given clairvoyantly to Madame Robert Houdin
during another seance with Alexis; Houdin at that time was one of the
best known characters of Paris, a public person, and it was the easiest
thing in the world for Alexis to gather information concerning him and
his family. Houdin may not have been acquainted with the subtlety of
what we now term “fishing,” “stalling,” or “killing time,” in order to
get information or put something over. He might have been mystified but
his knowledge of Spiritualism and clairvoyance was nil according to his
own statement.

One of the demonstrations presented by Alexis to mystify Houdin was
the reading from a book, by the seer, several pages in advance of a
page designated by the person holding the book at the time. There
does not seem to be any really authentic details reported regarding
the exact performance of this man, Alexis, consequently much must of
necessity be left to conjecture and a knowledge of the orthodox methods
for doing such things. Such information as there is available seems
to have passed through several hands and in all probability was first
presented to the public through a Spiritualistic publication. However,
the particular effect referred to is neither new nor strange but has
always been a feature in second sight acts and with clairvoyants. The
reading of a book from memory is quite possible to persons of abnormal
mind or special training in co-relative memorizing; a very clever
system with surprising possibilities. There are many cases on record of
persons who, having read a book once, could repeat every word and even
tell where the punctuation was. The ability to recite entire chapters
or parts of them is much more common, and is not difficult for trained
minds such as are possessed by members of theatrical stock companies,
who are oftentimes obliged to commit to memory simultaneously three or
four plays, and this too while on the road. In order to be prepared to
play one part in the afternoon and an entirely different one the same
night, stock actors frequently have to do some marvellous memorization
work on short notice. It is not an exception but the rule. They get
long parts with from fifty to a hundred and fifty “sides,” each side
containing from one to ten speeches. The foster-mother’s speech in
“Common Clay” is over three pages, and the Duchess’ in the first
act of Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Wildmere’s Fan” is about four pages. The
well-known actress, Miss Beatrice Moreland, told me that she memorized
them both in an hour and was almost letter perfect. The actor’s rule
for memorizing parts is to take ten pages first and when they have been
committed to memory take ten more. If such feats can be done as the
result of training how easy it must be for an abnormal mind to memorize
a book.

There comes to my mind a phenomenal memory feat by a blind slave boy
called “Blind Tom.” He would listen while a composer played an original
composition. As soon as the composer finished Tom seated himself at the
piano and reproduced the entire piece with all the composer’s delicacy
of shading and technique.

There is a case on record of a memory performance, I think in
Rousseau’s time, where a poet read a piece of poetry, a long monody, to
the King. At its conclusion the King said:

“Why, that is quite an old story, I have heard it before. As a matter
of fact the man who related it to me is in my palace now; I will send
for him and have him recite it for you.”

He spoke to a servant who left the room and returned in a few minutes
with the memory man who stood in the center of the room and recited the
entire poem. It appears that the King, wishing to mystify the poet,
had the memory man hidden in a closet where he could hear the poem read.

Inaudi, a Frenchman, has given performances both in America and Europe
in which he looks at a blackboard covered with figures written by a
committee, then turns around and immediately tells correctly every
figure on the board and its position; adds, subtracts, and multiplies
them, with lightning-like rapidity, and all without looking at the
board a second time. He makes no claim to psychic or clairvoyant powers
but simply explains his wonderful performance as being the result of a
photographic memory.

I might repeat such instances indefinitely but I think I have given
enough to substantiate my claim of precedence for God’s natural laws
and their marvellous, even incomprehensible working, over any so-called
supernatural endowment of a class of people so thoroughly disqualified
by all known laws of moral sociology, as many professional mediums are
admitted to be by their most ardent supporters.

Even such an eminent mystifier as Robert Houdin can misjudge when it
comes to fathoming the so-called manifestations of the professional
medium. As I have explained in “The Unmasking of Robert Houdin,”
page 291, he makes two flagrant errors in attempting to explain the
Davenport Brothers’ trick. First he claims that “by dint of special
practice on the part of the mediums, the thumb is made to lie flat in
the hand, when the whole assumes a cylindrical form of scarcely greater
diameter than the _wrist_.” Secondly, he declares that the Davenport
Brothers possessed the power of seeing in the dark as the result of
practice or training.

Releasing myself from fastenings of all sorts, from ropes to
straightjackets, has been my profession for over thirty-five years,
therefore I am in a position to positively contradict Houdin’s first
statement. I have met thousands of persons who claimed that the rope
trick as well as the handcuff trick was accomplished by folding the
hand together or by making the wrist larger than the hand, but I have
never met the man or woman who could make the hand smaller than the
wrist. I have even gone so far as to have iron bands made to press my
hands together, hoping to make them smaller than my wrists eventually,
but it was no use. Even if the thumbs were cut away I believe it would
be impossible to slip a rope that is properly bound around the wrist.
Furthermore I know that Houdin was wrong in regard to the Davenports
because of what Ira Erastus Davenport himself told me.

Equally preposterous is the gift of seeing in the dark with which
Houdin endowed the Davenports. Professor Hoffmann defends Houdin by
citing instances of prisoners who had been confined in a dungeon for
an indefinite period and had learned to see in the dark. Ira Erastus
Davenport laughed at the idea and Morelle, who was confined in a
dungeon for a number of years, told me that all the years he had spent
in darkness did not accustom his eyesight at all and that to have seen
an article plainly he would have been forced to hold it close to his
eyes and even then would have had to stretch his imagination.

Baggally, an investigator, a member of the Society for Psychical
Research, London, England, emphatically records that he believes the
Zancigs are _genuine telepathists_, and my friend, Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle, though he says that Zancig has given proof numerous times that
he works with a code, nevertheless has stated in writing that he
believed the Zancigs to be genuine. I want to go on record that the
Zancigs never impressed me as being anything but clever, silent and
signal codists. Zancig has admitted freely to members of the Society
of American Magicians, of which he is a member, that they were not
telepathists but, as we term it, “second sight artists.” They simply
have a wonderful code which the public cannot detect. It is interesting
to know that after Mrs. Zancig’s death, Zancig took a street-car
conductor from Philadelphia and broke him in to do the act. This young
man soon quit his teacher, married, and began presenting the act with
his wife. Then Zancig took young David Bamberg, an intelligent son
of Theodore Bamberg, one of our well-known magicians. The boy proved
exceptionally clever but on account of unexpected circumstances he left
and went abroad. Zancig came to me for an assistant and I introduced
him to an actress. He said he would guarantee to teach her the code
inside of a month, but they never came to an agreement on financial
matters. Zancig has now married again, this time a school teacher,
and they are doing a very clever performance. In passing I would note
that in 1906 or 1907 I engaged Zancig to go with my show. I had ample
opportunity to watch his system and codes. They are swift, sure, and
silent, and I must give him credit for being expertly adept in his
chosen line of mystery, but I have his personal word, given before a
witness, that telepathy does not enter into it.

Charles Morritt has a code for second sight which is very simple and
can be taught to anyone in thirty minutes. He has given me the secret.
He gave this code to a banker who performed it with his sister, and
Morritt, although he had taught the signals, could not follow or detect
them once they began to work smoothly. Of course he knew what they were
doing but simply could not follow them.

Regarding the possibility of using codes and cues before others without
being detected I can say positively that it is not only possible but
simple and practical. I had a fox terrier by the name of “Bobby” that
I trained to pick up cards by a cue. On May 31, 1918, I performed with
this dog before the Society of American Magicians and I do not believe
that there was one in the audience who detected my silent cue. I spoke
about this to a number of expert professionals who thought, to all
intents and purposes, that Bobby was listening to my speech, whereas
I was silently cueing him all the time. I do not wish to expose the
silent cue as I know that the great dog trainers of the world use it
and it would not be fair to them to make it public. I was able to give
Bobby his silent cue in any room or even a newspaper office and the
spectators could watch me closely all the time because I never made a
move they could see or a sound they could hear.

It is common to train other animals in a similar way. During one of
my tours in Germany I saw a horse called “Kluge Hans” that was able
to spell, add, subtract, pick out cards, and with his feet make one
tap for yes and two taps for no. Kluge Hans fooled the professors for
a long time but finally it came out that he got his cues from the
trainer’s assistant. It is not generally known that, owing to the
position of his eyes, a horse can look backwards to a certain degree
and the investigators did not notice the assistant who stood just back
of the horse’s head.

At one time William Eglinton, an English medium, was undoubtedly
considered by Spiritualists the most powerful professional psychic not
only in England but throughout a greater part of Europe. In 1876 he
held the palm as a successor to Slade in slate writing tricks. He was a
strong card for the cause and was extolled and lauded to the skies by
the Spiritualistic press. He produced varied phenomena in addition to
his slate writing effects, such as the movement of articles, production
of Spirit lights, and materialization. The Spiritualists have told
that “he was so skillful that several practised conjurors as well
as many investigators” were at a loss to detect or account for his
methods. That may have been so. Half a century ago conjurors were not
up on Spiritualism as they are to-day, and besides, it must be conceded
that even conjurors are not immune to being deceived. Nevertheless
there were conjurors and lay investigators fully qualified to discover
and expose his frauds.

In 1876, while in his prime as a medium, he was exposed in the
materialization of an Arab. This Arab’s flowing beard and draperies
were very familiar to English Spiritualists and as proof of the actual
materialization sitters were permitted to cut fragments from the beard
and robes. Archdeacon Colley, an interested member of a circle of
sitters, suspecting fraud, secured some clippings and a few days later
when opportunity offered “he _found_ in Eglinton’s portmanteau a false
beard and a quantity of muslin to which the detached relics perfectly
corresponded.” He was also exposed several other times but this did not
prevent the Spiritualist paper, _Light_, from publishing in October,
1886, a mass of testimony given by more than a hundred observers,
including persons of high culture and social standing, to show that
the phenomena at his seances were not due to any deliberate action on
the part of the medium but to “conclusively establish the existence of
some objective, intelligent force, capable of acting externally to the
medium and in contravention of the recognized laws of matter.”

The publication of such statements inspired Professor H. Carvill
Lewis[131] to visit Eglinton for the purpose of investigation and
arrangements were made for him to have a first sitting in November
just a month after the extravagant statement in _Light_. Aware of
the frailty of memory Professor Lewis made notes during the seance
and wrote out his deductions and conclusions immediately after. He
discovered at an early stage that close scrutiny did not produce an
atmosphere sufficiently wholesome for desired results. While his
attention was concentrated on the medium the “_objective intelligent
force_” seemed totally inoperative, but whenever he turned his
attention from the medium and apparently became absorbed in making
notes the “_intelligent force_” became active instanter. Under the
observation of Professor Lewis, Eglinton failed utterly at times and
at others simply _declined_ to work when conditions were against him.
Professor Lewis quotes him as claiming that he had converted Kellar to
Spiritualism but refutes such a claim in the following words:

“So far is this from being the case that Mr. Kellar, whom I know
personally, is nightly offering in America twenty pounds to anyone
who will produce Spiritualistic phenomena that he cannot imitate by

The facts are that Kellar had a sitting with Eglinton in Calcutta to
see if he could reproduce his effects by natural means. His mind was
unbiased, and failing to detect Eglinton’s method he remarked, “If
my senses are to be relied on the writing is in no way the result of
trickery or sleight-of-hand.” But note the qualification in his remark:
“If my senses are to be relied upon.” Evidently he had his misgivings
then and he must have worked out the problem soon after for two
years later, as Professor Lewis told, he was producing the effect in
America, and not long after performed both the Slade and Eglinton slate
tricks before the Seybert Commission in Philadelphia to its complete

It was not strange that Kellar did not detect Eglinton’s method
instantly nor is it strange that he acknowledged that he was baffled.
No magician is immune from being deceived and it is no way beneath a
magician’s dignity or demeaning to professional reputation to openly
admit that he cannot always account for what he thinks he sees.

Ernst Basch, of the famous Basch family, who made the major apparatus
for the magicians of the world, told me that he made hundreds of
wireless tables before wireless was so well known under the name of
“The Bewitched Table.” He was a great illusion inventor and builder
with a wonderful knowledge but in all his experience and contact with
mediums he had never seen anything which would make him believe in
Spiritualism. Neither has Francis J. Martinka, who traveled around the
world with Haselmeyer, the magician, and who has sold magical apparatus
in New York City for over forty years. I have the following letter from
him in regard to Spirit-communication.

                                       “146 East 54th Street,
                                        New York City,
                                        March 23rd, 1921.

    “Dear Mr. Houdini:

    “In answer to your question if I believe in Spiritualism,
    or the possibility of the return to this earth after death,
    how can I believe in such a thing as Spiritualism, when for
    more than two score years as the prominent magical dealer and
    manufacturer of mysterious effects I have supplied almost
    every known and thousands of unknown tricks or apparatus
    to the great majority of magicians, and indirectly to
    well-known mediums (one instance you may remember owing to the
    hullabaloo it raised at the time, when I sold luminous paint
    to Hereward Carrington, at the exact time when he was manager
    of the celebrated medium, E. Palladino, who had baffled the
    scientists of the world), also to all the managers of magician
    supply houses in existence.

    “No, I must say positively I do not believe in Spiritualism and
    it has always amused me to see how easy it is to deceive the
    human beings who seek solace for their grief or those who delve
    into the mysteries of which they know nothing.

    “In the forty years experience I have never seen anything that
    could convince me that such a thing as Spiritualism existed.

    “And to show you that I wish my letter to be positively
    authentic, have two friends sign as witnesses.

                                  “Sincerely yours,
                              (Signed)  “Francis J. Martinka.


  (Signed) Jean A. Leroy,
           133 3rd Ave.

  (Signed) Billy O’Connor,
             Magicians’ Club,

Another who finds nothing but “gross fraud” in Spiritualism after sixty
years of study is A. M. Wilson, M. D., of Kansas City, Mo., Editor and
Publisher of _The Sphinx_. He wrote me as follows:

                                        1007 Main St.,
                                          Kansas City, Mo.

    My dear Houdini:--

    For almost sixty-one years I have been witnessing and
    investigating Spiritualism and Spiritism as propagated by
    mediums through their so-called communications with the dead.
    Up to this time I have not met a medium, celebrated or
    obscure, that was not a gross fraud, nor seen a manifestation
    that was not trickery and that could not be duplicated by
    any expert magician and that without the conditions and
    restrictions demanded by the mediums or explained by perfectly
    natural mental or physical methods.

    Sure there are certain mental and psychic phenomena peculiar to
    a few persons who use their special gift to delude believers
    (as well as other credulous persons) with the belief that their
    work is supernatural, but even these phenomena can be analyzed
    and explained by any competent psychologist.

    The thing that first aroused my suspicion and disbelief and
    started me to thinking and investigating, was, why could not
    the dear departed communicate direct with their relatives and
    friends? why talk, or rap, or write or materialize through a
    medium, the majority of whom are ignorant men and women, though
    shrewd and cunning; and if through a medium why should the
    medium need a control, especially of an old Indian chief or
    prattling Indian maiden? Why a control at all?

    True there are a few well educated, intelligent and refined
    mediums in the business and which advantage makes them the more
    dangerous but none the less fraudulent than their more ignorant

    I repeat, that from my first seance in Aurora, Ind., February,
    1863, until this date of 1923 I have never met a medium
    that was not a fraud or seen a manifestation of any kind or
    character that was not fraudulent. In other words was a more
    or less crude or skillful magical performance by a clever
    trickster or tricksteress.

                              (Signed)  A. M. Wilson, M. D.,
                                        Editor _The Sphinx_.



It has been my desire in this book to convey to the reader my views
regarding Spiritualism which are the result of study and investigation,
the startling feature of which has been the utter inability of the
average human being to describe accurately anything he or she has
witnessed. Many sitters, devoid of the sense of acute observation,
prefer to garnish and embellish their stories with the fruits of their
fertile imaginations, adding a choice bit every time the incident is
reported, and eventually, by a trick of the brain, really believing
what they say. It is evident, therefore, that by clever misguidance and
apt misdirection of attention, a medium can accomplish seeming wonders.
The sitter becomes positively self-deluded and actually thinks he has
seen weird phantoms or has heard the voice of a beloved one.

To my knowledge I have never been baffled in the least by what I have
seen at seances. Everything I have seen has been merely a form of
mystification. The secret of all such performances is to catch the mind
off guard and the moment after it has been surprised to follow up with
something else that carries the intelligence along with the performer,
even against the spectator’s will. When it is possible to do this
with a highly developed mind like Mr. Kellar’s, one trained in magic
mystery, and when scientific men of the intelligence of Sir Oliver
Lodge, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the late William Crookes and William T.
Stead, can be made to believe by such means how much easier it must be
in the case of ordinary human beings.

I cannot accept nor even comprehend the intelligence which justifies
the conclusion, so often put in print as the opinion of brainy men
supporting Spiritualism, that admits the possibility of a result being
accomplished by natural means but nevertheless assert their sincere
belief that the identical performance by a professional medium is
solely of supernatural origin and guidance, nor can I understand the
reasoning that, acknowledging the disreputable character of certain
practitioners or mediums, deliberately defends the culprits in the
performance of what has been proven a crime. Is it true logic, logic
that would stand either in court or club room, to say that a medium
caught cheating ninety-nine times out of a hundred was honest the
hundredth time because not caught? Would the reader trust a servant
who stole ninety-nine articles and then professed innocence when the
hundredth article was missing?

Sir Conan Doyle asks in all innocence, “Is it really scientific to
deny and at the same time refuse to investigate?” My answer is most
emphatically “no.” Nevertheless, they absolutely oppose all honest
efforts at investigation, and justify the mediums in refusing to
work when the conditions are not just as they want them. When one is
invited to a dark seance for the purpose of investigation and finds the
conditions so fixed as to bar him from enquiring too closely and compel
him to be content with merely looking on he stands a poor chance of
getting at the facts, and should he dare to disregard the “rules of the
circle” and the seance results in a blank, the investigator is charged
with having brought an atmosphere of incredulity to bear which prevents

I do not affirm that the claims of Spiritualism are disproved by
such failures but I do say that if under such circumstances one
dared to investigate properly and sanely, and to cross-examine,
as he most certainly would do in any other form of investigation,
scientific, or in the other walks of life, Spiritualism would not
be so generously accepted. In justification the psychic says that
darkness or excessively dim light is perfectly legitimate and that
tangible investigation might result in _injury_ or even _death_ to
the medium. The folly of any such fear has been proven time and again
by the unexpected play of a flash light. Even the ardent supporters
who lay emphasis on such an absurdity have, according to their own
confession, made, or had made, flashlight photographs and there has
never been a single case of harm or disaster reported. This necessity
for darkness seems but the grossest invention of the medium to divert,
even to the point of intimidation, the attention of the sitters. Such a
necessity cannot be accorded a logical reason for existing under test
conditions to demonstrate a scientific subject. It can be supported
only as a visionary, speculative superstition; an instrument to foster
hallucinatory illusion and as an admirable subterfuge to cover fraud.

Sir Arthur says:

“If you want to send a telegram you must go to a telegraph office. If
you want to telephone you must first pick up the receiver and give your
message to either an operator or a waiting automaton.”

Very well, I have gone to the operator between the Beyond and this
earthly sphere, I have gone to the telegraph office that receives
the message in code, to the so-called _medium_. What would be more
wonderful to me than to be able to converse with my beloved mother?
Surely there is no love in this world like a mother’s love, no
closeness of spirit, no other heart throbs that beat alike; but I have
not heard from my blessed Mother, except through the dictates of the
inmost recesses of my heart, the thoughts which fill my brain and the
memory of her teachings.

Would not my private secretary, John William Sargent, come back to me
and tell me the secrets of the beyond if it were possible? Did he not,
just before he died, tell me that he would come to me if there was
any way of doing it? More than being a private secretary, he was my
friend,--true, loyal, sacrificing,--knew me for thirty years. He has
not come back to me and he would if it were possible.

I had compacts with a round dozen. Each one promised me faithfully
to come back if it were possible. I have even gone so far as to
create secret codes and hand-grips. Sargent had a certain word he was
to repeat to me; William Berol, the eminent mental expert, gave me
the secret handshake a few hours before he died and did not regain
consciousness after silently telling me that he remembered our compact;
Atlanta Hall, niece of President Pierce, a woman ninety years of age,
who had had seances with the greatest mediums that visited Boston,
called for me just before her death, clasped my hand and gave me our
agreed-upon grip which she was to give me through a medium. They have
never come back to me! Does that prove anything? I have attended a
number of seances since their death, the mediums have called for them,
and when their spirit forms were supposed to appear not one of them
could give me the proper signal. Would I have received it? I’ll wager I
would have. There was love of some kind between each of these friends
who are gone and myself. It is needless to point out the love of a
mother and son; the love of a real friend; the love of a woman of
ninety toward a man who held her dear; the love of a philosopher toward
a man who respected his life study,--they were all loves, each strong,
each binding. If these persons, with all the love they bore in their
heart for me and all the love I have in my heart for them, did not
return, what about those who did not hold me close, who had no interest
in me? Why should they come back and mine not?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has repeatedly told the Spiritualists that I
will eventually see the light and embrace Spiritualism. If the memory
of a loved one, gone to the protection of the hands of the Great
Mystifier means Spiritualism, then truly I do believe in it. But
if Spiritualism is to be founded on the tricks of exposed mediums,
feats of magic, resort to trickery, then I say unflinchingly I do not
believe, and more, I will not believe. I have said many times that I am
willing to believe, want to believe, will believe, if the Spiritualists
can show any substantiated proof, but until they do I shall have to
live on, believing from all the evidence shown me and from what I have
experienced that Spiritualism has not been proven satisfactorily to the
world at large and that none of the evidence offered has been able to
stand up under the fierce rays of investigation.

It is not for us to prove that the mediums are dishonest, it is for
them to prove that they _are_ honest. They have made a statement, the
most serious statement in recent times, for it affects the welfare,
the mental attitude and means a complete revolution of age-old beliefs
and customs of the world. If there is anything to Spiritualism then
the world should know it. If there is nothing to it, if it is, as
it appears, built on a flimsy framework of misdirection, then too
the universe must be told. There is too much at stake for a flighty
passing, for unsubstantiated truths.



_Statement of Margaret Fox_

“Do you know that there is something behind the shadowy mask of
Spiritualism that the public can hardly guess at? I am stating now what
I know, not because I actually participated in it, for I would never
be a party to such promiscuous nastiness, but because I had plenty of
opportunity, as you may imagine, of verifying it. Under the name of
this dreadful, this horrible, hypocrisy--Spiritualism--everything that
is improper, bad and immoral is practiced. They go even so far as to
have what they call ‘Spiritual children.’ They pretend to something
like the immaculate conception! Could anything be more blasphemous,
more disgusting, more thinly deceptive than that? In London I went in
disguise to a quiet seance at the house of a wealthy man, and I saw
a so-called materialization. The effect was produced with the aid of
luminous paper, the luster of which was reflected upon the operator.
The figure thus displayed was that of a woman, virtually nude, being
enveloped in transparent gauze, the face alone being concealed. This
was one of those seances to which the privileged non-believing friends
of believing Spiritualists could have access. But there are other
seances where none but the most tried and trusted are admitted, and
where there are shameless goings on that vie with the secret Saturnalia
of the Romans. I could not describe these things to you, because I
would not.”

From “The Death Blow to Spiritualism,” by Ruben Briggs Davenport. Page


_Irving’s Speech_

Speech of Henry Irving preceding his imitation of the Davenports
February 25, 1865, at the Manchester Athenæum, Manchester, England.

“Ladies and gentlemen:--In introducing to your notice the remarkable
phenomena which have attended the gentlemen, who are not brothers, who
are about to appear before you, I do not deem it necessary to offer my
observations upon their extraordinary manifestations. I shall therefore
at once commence a long rigmarole for the purpose of distracting your
attention, and filling your intelligent heads with perplexity. I need
not tell this enlightened audience that the manifestations they are
about to witness are produced by occult power, the meaning of which
I don’t clearly understand; but, we simply bring before your notice
facts, and from these you must form your own conclusions. Concerning
the early life of these gentlemen, columns of the most uninteresting
description could be written; I will mention one or two interesting
facts connected with these remarkable men, and for the truth of which I
personally vouch. In early life, one of them to the perfect unconcern
of everybody else, was constantly and most unconsciously floating about
his peaceful dwelling in the arms of his amiable nurse, while, on other
occasions, he was frequently tied with invisible hands to his mother’s
apron strings. Peculiarities of a like nature were exhibited by his
companion, whose acquaintance with various Spirits commenced many
years ago, and has increased to the present moment with pleasure to
himself and profit to others. These gentlemen have not been celebrated
throughout the vast continent of America, they have not astonished
the civilized world, but they have travelled in various parts of
this glorious land--the land of Bacon--and are about to appear in a
phase in your glorious city of Manchester. Many really sensible and
intelligent individuals seem to think that the requirement of darkness
seems to infer trickery. So it does. But I will strive to convince you
that it does not. Is not a dark chamber essential to the process of
photography? And what would we reply to him who would say ‘I believe
photography is a humbug, do it all in the light and we will believe
otherwise’? It is true that we know why darkness is essential to the
production of a sun picture; and if scientific men will subject these
phenomena to analysis, they will find why darkness is essential to our
manifestations. But we don’t want them to find out, we want them to
avoid a common-sense view of the mystery. We want them to be blinded by
our puzzle, and to believe with implicit faith in the greatest humbug
in the nineteenth century.”


_Lord Adare’s Story._

That is the way Spiritualistic chroniclers tell this story, but
Lord Dunraven, in a letter to the Editor of _The Weekly Dispatch_,
London, Eng., March 21, 1920, gives quite a different version of the
occurrence, and because of its intrinsic worth as refutation of the
loud claim made by Spiritualists I am reproducing the entire article
including head lines:



“_By Lord Dunraven._

“My attention has been drawn to accounts of a debate on ‘Spiritualism’
on March 11 between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Mr. Joseph McCabe, in
which the latter is reported to have described the alleged wafting of
Mr. D. D. Home from window to window as one of the greatest pieces of
trickery to be found in the whole Spiritualistic movement.

“Assuming the substantial accuracy of the report, I, as the sole
survivor of those present on the occasion, think it my duty, in justice
to the dead, to mention the facts as recorded by me at the time.

“They are extracted from a long letter descriptive of the evening to my
father, who was much interested in the subject. Whether my letter was
submitted to the others present I cannot now say for certain. I have no
doubt that it was, for my custom was always to ask others present to
test the accuracy of any record that I kept.

“The date was December 16, 1868. Those present were myself (then Lord
Adare), the late Lord Crawford, (then Master of Lindsay), a cousin of
mine, Mr. Wynne (Charlie) and Mr. D. D. Home.


“The scene was Ashley House (in Ashley-place). Speaking from memory,
it consisted of two rooms facing the front--that is, looking on
Ashley-place--a passage at the back running the length of the two
rooms, a door in each room connecting it with the passage. The locality
is thus described in the letter to my father:

“‘Outside each window is a small balcony or ledge, 19 in. deep,
bounded by stone balustrade, 18 in. high. The balustrades of the two
windows are 7 ft. 4 in. apart, measuring from the nearest points. A
string-course, 4 in. wide, runs between the windows at the level of the
bottom of the balustrade, and another, 3 in. wide, at the level of the
top. Between the window at which Home went out and that at which he
came in the wall recedes 6 in. The rooms are on the third floor.’

“The following account of the incident is extracted from the letter to
my father:

“He (Home) then said to us, ‘Do not be afraid, and on no account leave
your places;’ and he went out into the passage.


“Lindsay suddenly said, ‘Oh, good heavens! I know what he is going to
do; it is too fearful.’ Adare: ‘What is it?’ Lindsay: ‘I cannot tell
you; it is too horrible! Adah says that I must tell you; he is going
out of the window in the other room, and coming in at this window.’

“We heard Home go into the next room, heard the window thrown up, and
presently Home appeared standing upright outside our window. He opened
the window and walked in quite cooly. ‘Ah,’ he said, ‘you were good
this time,’ referring to our having sat still and not wished to prevent
him. He sat down and laughed.

“Charlie: ‘What are you laughing at?’ Home: ‘We are thinking that if
a policeman had been passing and had looked up and seen a man turning
round and round along the wall in the air he would have been much
astonished. Adare, shut the window in the next room.’

“I got up, shut the window, and in coming back remarked that the window
was not raised a foot, and that I could not think how he had managed to
squeeze through.


“He arose and said ‘Come and see.’ I went with him; he told me to open
the window as it was before, I did so; he told me to stand a little
distance off; he then went through the open space, head first, quite
rapidly, his body being nearly horizontal and apparently rigid. He came
in again, feet foremost, and we returned to the other room.

“It was so dark I could not see clearly how he was supported outside.
He did not appear to grasp, or rest upon, the balustrade, but rather to
be swung out and in.”

“Such are the facts as narrated at the time. I make no comment except
this. Rigorously speaking, it is incorrect to say, as I think has been
said, that we _saw_ Mr. Home wafted from one window to the other.

“As to whether he was or was not, I am concerned only to state the
facts as observed at the time, not to make deductions from them.”

In view of this publication, it is quite natural to infer that Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle was cognizant of it at the time of its appearance,
because of his controversy with Mr. Joseph McCabe, on that subject;
therefore, it is difficult to reconcile that thought with the fact of
Sir Arthur’s unmitigated praise and endorsement of a man such as all
adduced evidence has branded a charlatan.


_Luther R. Marsh and the Huylers_

In 1903, Luther R. Marsh again fell into the hands of charlatans as Mr.
Isaac K. Funk tells in his book “The Widow’s Mite and Other Psychic
Phenomena.” A court set aside the assignment of several insurance
policies which Marsh had made to a medium known as Mrs. Huyler. Mr.
Funk tells the story as follows:

“On the day Mr. Marsh transferred the policies he (Huyler) and his
wife had gone to Mr. Marsh’s room, where Mrs. Huyler claimed to hold
communication with the Spirits and told Mr. Marsh there was a terrible
uproar in Spiritland because he declined to transfer the policies. She
told him that his Spiritualistic wife, Adelaide Neilson, was tearing
her hair and weeping, and heaping reproaches upon him. His wife, Mrs.
Marsh, was acting in the same fashion, and his father-in-law, ‘Sunset,’
Alvin Stewart, was exceedingly wroth.

“Mr. Marsh was alarmed at this manifestation of Spiritualistic
displeasure, and agreed to transfer the policies. At the last moment he
hesitated and claimed that because his will was made out he thought it
better to postpone the matter a little while; but Mrs. Huyler insisted
that he go across the way to a lawyer’s office, and he did so.

“While he was gone Mrs. Huyler admitted that the trance was a ‘fake’
and said that she wanted to get all she could from the ‘old fool’
before he died.

“Mr. Marsh returned to the room presently and assured her that the
transfer had been made as she desired. As soon as this evidence had
been given by Huyler, Justice Marean ended the proceedings.

“‘This man is a thief and a fraud,’ he said turning to Huyler, ‘and
he acted the part of a thief when he and his wife conspired to secure
those policies by the means he has just related.’”


_Police Record of Ann O’Delia Diss Debar._

Editha Loleta, Jackson, alias The Swami--5--3½--sallow.

Hair brown, turning gray. Blue eyes. Occupation, authoress.


6 mos., New York. 19.6.88. Swindling. Ann O’Delia Diss Debar.

2 years, Geneva. 25.3.93. Larceny. Vera P. Ava.

Expelled from New Orleans. 7.5.99. Swindling, Susp. Person. Edith

30 days, New Orleans. 16.5.99. Susp. Person. Edith Jackson.

7 years penal servitude, Central Criminal Court, London. 16.12.01.
Aiding and abetting the commission of rape. Editha Loleta Jackson.


_Judge Edmonds_

Judge Edmonds was born in Hudson, N. Y., in 1799, received a college
education and studied law. In 1819 he entered the law office of
President Van Buren. In 1828 he was appointed Recorder of Hudson and
in 1831 was elected to the State Senate by an unprecedented majority.
In 1843 he was appointed Inspector of the State Prison at Sing Sing
holding the position until 1845 when he resigned to become a Circuit
Judge of the First Judicial District. Later he was elected Judge of the
State Supreme Court and finally in 1851 became a member of the Court of
Appeals. These various offices gave him experience in the widest range
of judicial duties; he had a greatly developed mentality and was known
as the shrewdest judge of his time.

In 1850 he lost his wife with whom he had lived for over thirty
years. He was very much affected by her death and his mind became
occupied with inquiries concerning the nature and conditions of
death, frequently spending the greater part of the night reading and
reflecting on the subject. One midnight he seemed to hear the voice
of his wife speaking a sentence to him. It was his doom. He started
as though shot and from that time on devoted all his time, money and
energy to Spiritualism. His faith did not waver to the end. On his
death bed he claimed to be surrounded by Spirit forms and declared
that by reason of entering their sphere in an advanced state of
spiritual development he would be able to send back messages and
proofs of Spiritualism at once. He died April 5th, 1874 (the very
date of my birth). I doubt if the history of Spiritualism can point
out a man of greater brilliancy who ruined his life following up this
“will-o-the-wisp” to relieve his grief.


_Doyle and the “Denver Express.”_

This reminds me of a conversation which we had in Denver in May, 1923,
when he admitted to me that he was frequently misquoted and made to say
things which he never even thought of.

By some prank of fate, Sir Arthur was booked to lecture in Denver at
the same time I was performing there.

Lady Doyle, Sir Arthur, Mrs. Houdini and myself went out motoring
in the morning and when we returned to the hotel Sir Arthur excused
himself. About two hours later on my way to the Orpheum Theatre, Sir
Arthur came dashing through the lobby of the hotel excitedly looking
around for someone. I walked up to him saying, “Anything I can do for
you?” He put his arm around me and said, “Houdini, there is a challenge
of $5,000 in this paper which I am purported to have issued. I want you
to know that I would never dream of doing such a thing, to you above
everyone else.”

I replied, “Sir Arthur, this is just another case, where you have been
misquoted. No doubt you are thinking that I am going to believe it, for
I know that if conditions were reversed you would have believed it;
therefore, you see it is best to investigate before giving credence to
anything as being a fact. I am not even upset about it--things happen
that way. Will you please remember this incident the next time you read
an interview supposedly issued by me?” Sir Arthur left for Salt Lake
City the next morning.

I walked into the Editorial Department of the _Denver Express_, saw Mr.
Sydney B. Whipple, the Managing Editor, and told him that I had met Sir
Arthur the night before and that he was very indignant at the challenge
which the paper reported he issued. I said, “You see, Mr. Whipple,
Sir Arthur, Lady Doyle, Mrs. Houdini and myself were out motoring all
yesterday afternoon, and when Sir Arthur returned he saw the “scare
head-line” to the effect that he had challenged me for $5,000! Whipple
asked, “You mean to say that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle denies having
challenged you?” I replied, “Most emphatically,--he said that it was
not true and he never made such a statement and added he had written to
the Editor to let him know what he thought of him for misrepresenting
and misquoting what he said.” Mr. Whipple asked me to wait a moment
until he got to the bottom of the matter.

Whipple called over Mr. Sam Jackson and said, “Regarding this challenge
of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, did he or did he not challenge Houdini
during your interview?” Jackson answered, “Why he positively did.
You do not think, Mr. Whipple, that I would come in with a story
which is not true? Sir Arthur distinctly made his statement in terms
positive, that he was willing to challenge Houdini for $5,000. Miss
Jeanette Thornton was there at the time interviewing Lady Doyle, and
she overheard the conversation. Will you please call her and have her
confirm my statement.”

Miss Thornton came over and upon being questioned, answered, “Most
assuredly I heard Sir Arthur’s challenge yesterday. I thought it was
a very interesting incident so I paid particular attention. I am
surprised that Sir Arthur now denies having made it.”

Whipple turned to me saying, “There you are--any further proof you
want, is there anything we can do for you to contradict this? Do you
wish us to make a statement?” To which I replied, “No, just let it go,
we will let it pass.”

The following letters which I received from Mr. Whipple are



                                                  “May 11, 1923.

    “Dear Mr. Houdini:--

    “I am enclosing a letter from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    complaining that the report of his challenge regarding
    mediumistic appearances was garbled in this paper.

    “I must also say that our reporter, who talked with Doyle
    insists that his report of the conversation was absolutely
    correct, and that Doyle said what we printed.

                              “Cordially yours,
                                  (Signed)  “Sydney B. Whipple.


Denver, Colo.

                                                       “May 9, 1923.


    “The report in the _Denver Express_ that I offered to bring
    back the spirit of my mother for five thousand dollars, in
    order to confute Mr. Houdini, is a monstrous fabrication, and
    I cannot imagine how you dare to print such a thing, which is
    on the face of it so blasphemous and absurd.

    “What actually occurred was that your reporter said that my
    friend Mr. Houdini had wagered $5,000 that he could do anything
    any medium could do, to which I answered “To do that he would
    have to show me my mother.” This is surely very different.

                              “Yours faithfully,
                                    (Signed) “A. Conan Doyle.”


_Exposure of Mrs. Stewart_

It is significant to note that on December 28, 1923, at St Louis,
Mo., I was fortunate in forming acquaintance with Judge Daniel G.
Taylor, who presided over Division No. 2 of the Circuit Court, to
which division Josie K. Folsom-Stewart, as President, Charles W.
Stewart, Secretary, and Phoebe S. Wolf, as Treasurer, made application
for incorporation of the “Society of Scientific and Religious
Truthseekers,” who claimed that they had associated themselves
by articles of agreement in writing, as a “Society for religious
and mutual improvement purposes.” “The articles of agreement and
association are signed by some forty persons.” As was customary in such
cases, Judge Taylor “appointed J. Lionberger Davis, then a practicing
attorney, now President of Security National Bank, as amicus curiae to
examine into the matter and report whether or not the charter should
be granted.” The outcome of which was evidence of guilt of fraudulent
manifestations of mediumship. In the course of investigation, Miss
Martha Grossman, a member of Mrs. Folsom’s “Development Class,”
testified that Mr. Stewart and Mrs. Folsom were conducting meetings
which she had attended for six months, at which time she saw writing on
cards which Mrs. Folsom said was done by Spirits.

Miss Grossman testified that what Mrs. Folsom claimed to be spirit
photographs were mere transfers from prints in the _Post-Dispatch_,
advertising “Syrup of Figs” and “Lydia Pinkham’s” concoction.
It also developed that Miss Alice C. Preston confessed to having
been a confederate and in that capacity “assisted Mrs. Folsom in
producing, physically, and by natural means, the supposed supernatural
demonstrations.” A reference to this testimony is contained in the
memorandum document on the evidence which is signed by the attorney for
the petitioners and which is in the court files.

As a conclusion, Judge Taylor denied the petition for incorporation,
which in any event could have been granted for the purpose of holding
real estate only, and not for promulgating teachings of a cult.

The Judge acknowledged that he himself was convinced that Mrs. Folsom
was a fraud; and this is the same _Mrs. Stewart_, who appeared before
the Scientific American Committee of Investigation in 1923, wherein she
was detected in her card-trick.

Mrs. Folsom was forced to acknowledge to the court in 1905 that she was
the author of a small book under title of “Non-Godism,” a copy of which
together with documentary evidence bearing on the court proceedings
referred to above are now in my possession.


[1] “Oh, no, Houdini, I never was more serious in my life.”

[2] Sir John Franklin was a celebrated Arctic explorer. In 1845 he
was appointed to the command of an expedition sent out by the British
Admiralty in search of the northwest passage. The expedition sailed
from Greenhithe, May 18, 1845, and was last spoken off the entrance of
Lancaster Sound, July 26, 1845. Thirty-nine relief expeditions, public
and private, were sent out from England and America in search of the
missing explorer between 1847 and 1857. McClintock found traces of the
missing expedition in 1859, which confirmed previous rumors of its
total destruction.

[3] _New York World_, October 21, 1888.

[4] See Appendix A.

[5] Could this possibly have been “in answer to prayer” as now claimed?

[6] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his book, “Our American Adventures,”

“The original house was removed by pious hands and reconstructed, as
I understand it, at Lily Dale. It is not generally known that when it
was pulled down or it may have been before, the bones of the murdered
peddler and his tin box were discovered buried in the cellar, as
was stated in the original rappings. The rappings were in 1848, the
discovery in 1903. What have our opponents to say to this?”

According to Margaret Fox’s confession, Doyle’s statements are
misleading and contrary to the facts.

[7] There were three investigations by competent investigators. One
in Buffalo by medical doctors, one in Philadelphia by the Seybert
Commission of the University of Pennsylvania, and one in Boston by a
committee of professors from Harvard University. Any one of the three
would have resulted disastrously for the medium had the conditions
and requirements demanded by the investigators been complied with. A
suspicion was well founded in the minds of the investigators as to the
actual solution of the problem, but they were not permitted to proceed
to a finish, the mediums hedging each time when a crucial test was

[8] I have been warned while writing this book to be careful regarding
my statement of the confession of Margaret Fox. I am also fully aware
of the fact that Dr. Funk writes in his book, “The Widow’s Mite”:

“Margaret Fox, not long before her death, confessed that she and her
sister had duped the public. This unfortunate woman had sunk so low
that for five dollars she would have denied her own mother and sworn to
anything. At that time her affidavit for or against anything should not
be given the slightest weight.”

Mr. W. S. Davis, himself a practicing medium, who knew Margaret Fox
Kane personally, wrote me:

“One would think that Margaret Fox got drunk, and in that condition,
was induced to confess that she was a fraud, but when she became sober
she renounced her confession. That is what we would think to hear some
Spiritualists talk. _She was sober when the made her confession; she
was sober when she appeared in the theatre and gave her exposé. In fact
she was usually sober._ She drank considerably during the later years
of her life, and often drank too much, _but usually she was sober_. One
of her reasons for drinking was that her hypocrisy had become more and
more distasteful to her. Living a constant lie got on her nerves, and,
when the later years came, she didn’t have the same degree of vital
force that she had in her younger days to battle off the dictates of
her conscience.”

[9] _New York World_, October 22, 1888.

[10] From Ruben Briggs Davenport’s “The Death Blow to Spiritualism.”

[11] _Ibid._

[12] These statements are fully corroborated by letters on file in my
library and I consider it not only a privilege, but a duty as well to
truthfully present them here.

[13] Ira, the surviving brother, was so touched by this little act that
he taught me the famous Davenport rope-tie, the secret of which had
been so well kept that not even his sons knew it.

[14] It was in Paris too that the other brother, William Henry Harrison
Davenport, met the great Adah Isaacs Menken, called the “Bengal Tiger,”
and though not generally known she later became his wife. She was
considered one of the “Ten Super-Women of the World.” She was born
within a few miles of New Orleans, La., in 1835. Upon the death of
her father she embarked on her stage career and instantaneously won
success.... She made her first appearance in New York City at the
National Theatre in 1860. She was married a number of times. Her first
marriage was to John C. Heenan, the prize fighter, better known as
“Benicia Boy.” She was the first woman to do the Mazeppa in tights,
playing the rôle both in America and Europe. While in London she became
the literary and professional star of the hour and her hotel was the
meeting place for such men as Charles Dickens, Swinburne, Alexander
Dumas, Charles Reade, Watts Phillips, John Oxenford, The Duke of
Hamilton and many others. She wrote a book of poems named “Infelicity,”
which she dedicated to Charles Dickens. She had a penchant for being
photographed with many of her admirers and there is a rare photograph
of her and Swinburne which he tried hard to suppress. Another famous
one is of Dumas and the fair lady.

[15] They were married in London during March, 1866.

[16] Long after Ira died his only daughter, Zellie, a well known
actress, told me that while her father and I were so absorbed in
discussing and experimenting with the rope trick she and her mother
cautiously slipped behind the curtains and watched us through the
bedroom window.

[17] Ira told me that at first they used to work unbound in a corner
of the room with a curtain to conceal their methods. At one of their
seances they were asked if the Spirits would work if the Brothers
allowed themselves to be tied. This led them to try out different rope
methods, gradually developing the one used all over the world which Ira
taught me, saying smilingly after he had done so: “Houdini, we started
it, you finish it.”

[18] I had the honor of being instrumental in launching and directing
Dean Kellar’s farewell at the Hippodrome in New York City and he
selected me to be his last assistant. As a part of the performance he
presented with some table tipping what he called the “Davenport Cabinet
and Rope Mystery.” After the performance he walked to the footlights
and said:

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am finished giving performances to-night. As I
will have no further use for the cabinet and table I publicly present
them to my dear friend Houdini.”

In this cabinet, made in imitation of the one used by the Davenport
Brothers, the benches are fitted into a groove making it possible for
them to be slipped out in case of an extra severe tie-up, giving enough
freedom to ring bells and do a number of other things without releasing
the hands in the usual way. This is something of an improvement in
mystery cabinets.

[19] They rubbed vaseline into their hands and wrists to facilitate
their movements. The rope generally used was similar to the Silver Lake
sash cord.

[20] It was sometimes claimed that after their demonstrations were over
the Davenports turned the papers and remarked them. This Ira said was
a deliberate lie as they never left their places throughout the entire

[21] At one of their seances a man tied the brothers so tightly that
it was necessary for them to make a desperate struggle to effect a
release. The next night the man tried a more difficult test, simply
laying the ropes all over their bodies, but the Davenports worked so
slowly, deftly, and with such inexhaustible patience that they saved
their reputation.

[22] Nor did he hesitate to tell me that he sometimes used as many as
ten confederates at a seance for protection.

[23] William Fay, in order to be prepared for an emergency, always
carried a piece of rope in his mandolin, and boasted to his partners:

“I’ll not chaw the ropes like you fellows, I’ll cut.”

[24] The original cabinet of the Davenports, made of bird’s-eye maple,
was pawned for thirty pounds in Cuba many years ago and is still there.

[25] In order to prove to the public that they did not make use of
their hands test conditions were imposed by filling both the brothers’
hands with flour and then tying them behind their backs. Almost every
publication that has written an exposé of the Davenport Brothers claims
with glee that the trick was performed by putting flour into their
pockets from which they took a fresh handful after the manifestations
were finished and pretending that their hands were clenched all the
time. It is claimed that once a committeeman instead of placing flour
in their hands filled them with snuff and after the manifestations
had been performed they had their hands fulls of flour. Ira told me
that this was a deliberate lie as they did not need to get rid of the
flour in their hands as they could do all the tricks with their hands
clenched using the free thumb.

[26] The levitation act which has helped to swell the ranks of the
Spiritualists and which mystified scientist and laymen alike, was one
of the simplest deceptions ever practiced on the guileless masses by
cunning mediums. A reformed medium in Bristol, England, told me that
he would endeavor to free himself from his restraints, and by deft
manipulations managed to pick up a person who sat in a chair nearby.
Although the sitter had only been lifted a few inches from the floor
he believed in all good faith that his head had actually brushed the
ceiling, this impression being created by the medium gently passing his
hand over the top of the sitter’s head.

[27] As to the delusion of sound. Sound waves are deflected just as
light waves are reflected by the intervention of a proper medium and
under certain conditions it is a difficult thing to locate their
source. Stuart Cumberland told me an interesting test to prove the
inability of a blindfolded person to trace sound to its source. It is
exceedingly simple; merely clicking two coins over the head of the
blindfolded person.

[28] This refers to our contemplated tour of the world. When I first
became acquainted with Ira Davenport in 1909 I found that he was very
anxious to re-enter the entertainment field and we set about planning
a tour of the world together. By combining his reputation and my
knowledge and experience we would have been able to set the world agog.
Under no circumstances, however, would we have claimed our performance
Spiritualistic, but just a mystery entertainment.

[29] The start of the Liverpool riot can be laid indirectly to
Ferguson. He protested the way the boys had been secured and without
waiting for instructions or a word from the Brothers, whipped out a
knife and cut the ropes. Ira told me that it was too bad that Ferguson
did that for they never could have secured them so they could not have
produced some manifestations.

[30] Ira told me that during the disturbance in Liverpool, John Hughes,
Fenian head, offered him five hundred Irishmen to clean up any mob of

[31] Ira told me that he believed that their success so diminished
the popularity of the theatre where Irving was playing that the stars
were forced to resort to various schemes to counteract the dwindling
receipts at the box office.

See Appendix B for Irving’s speech.

[32] The reader should not confuse this man Jacobs with _Jacoby_, the
German escape-artist, a rope specialist who invented a number of rope
tricks that are still well worth presenting.

[33] He wrote me a letter on July 5th, 1911, and was waiting to see me
at the time of his death on the 8th. I was to leave New York on receipt
of his letter but his daughter Zelie wired me of his passing away.

[34] When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was appearing in Australia in 1920 he
met Bendigo Rymer, the grandson of J. S. Rymer, who had entertained
Home lavishly. Bendigo showed Sir Arthur a number of letters from his
grandfather which proved conclusively that Home had been guilty of
taking advantage of the man’s friendship. Rymer had entertained Home in
England and sent him to Rome with his son to study art. From Rome young
Rymer wrote his father that as soon as Home had been able to elbow his
way into society he totally ignored him though as host he was paying
Home’s expenses. Finally Home ran away and lived with a titled English
woman, shunning Rymer altogether.

Sir Arthur in his book, “The Wanderings of a Spiritualist,” says in
reference to Home: “For weeks he lived at her villa, although the state
of his health would suggest that it was rather as a patient than a
lover.” In his introduction to Madame Home’s book Sir Arthur entirely
forgives this rude action of Home and strongly defends his base

[35] Home, the Spiritualist, is giving readings in Boston. Has he given
up his Spiritualism in disgust at finding that people who strained
at his manifestations have swallowed the Davenports? We are glad to
think he has adopted an honest profession at last, and we hope before
long to see his rivals rising to sweeping a crossing or something as
respectable.--_London Fun_, 1864.

[36] “Incidents in My Life,” London, 1863--“Lights and Shadows of
Spiritualism,” 1877.

[37] It is quite unnecessary for me to repeat the many proofs of fraud
perpetrated by Home, but if the reader is interested he will find many
such cases reported by Mr. Frank Podmore in “Modern Spiritualism,”
London, 1902, and “Newer Spiritualism,” London, 1910. Mr. Podmore was a
Spiritualist himself and a member of the Society of Psychical Research
and would naturally make out as good a case for Home as he could

[38] See Appendix F.

[39] She only lived about four years.

[40] In his introduction to the 1921 edition of “D. D. Home’s Life and
Work,” by Madame Home, Doyle declares that he commends the book to the
student, saying:

“Very especially the second series is commended to the student of Home,
because in it will be found all the papers dealing with the Home-Lyon
lawsuit showing conclusively how honorable was the action of Home.”

Does he wish us to infer that it was Home who brought the suit against
Mrs. Lyon, rather than the opposite?

Does he wish it understood that he is _sincere_ in his commendation of
a charlatan?

Throughout the introduction he defends Home and seems to deliberately
twist the history of the man.

[41] It is interesting to note that Sir William Crookes, the eminent
scientist, who must have known of the history and character of Home
as unveiled at the Lyon trial, should have permitted himself to fall
within the mesh of D. D. Home.

[42] Taking for granted that the committee in the room was not able to
see or permitted to leave the table the method Home could have used
with the greatest ease was: first actually get out of the window, or
pretend to; then, go back and noiselessly crawl on all fours through
the door into the next room and shake the window; and lastly, boldly
return to the first room, closing the door with a bang.

There is a possibility that a man of Home’s audacity with levitation
feats might have resorted to swinging from one window to another, which
means nothing to any acrobat with a wire properly placed in readiness.

The idea of Home losing his physical weight and floating out of the
window head first is merely a suggestion of his, a ruse which is still
being used by mediums.

[43] See Appendix C for Lord Adare’s story.

[44] There are numerous versions of the cause of his death. Mme.
Blavatsky, who made a special investigation of the deaths of prominent
mediums, wrote: “This Calvin of Spiritualism suffered for years from a
terrible spinal disease, brought on through his intercourse with the
‘Spirits,’ and died a perfect wreck.”--“Key to Theosophy,” 1890.

[45] Table lifting was a strong card with her.

[46] “She was taken in a menial position into a family given to
Spiritualistic practices. Being called one day to make up the circle
at a seance, certain new and surprising manifestations took place, and
she was pronounced to be a medium. So it appears that the Spiritualists
actually pushed her into the matter, and she immediately took advantage
of the opportunity.”--Proceedings, Society for Psychical Research,
November, 1909, pp. 311, 312.

[47] Robert Owen, Prof. Hare, Prof. Challis, Prof. Zollner, Prof.
Weber, and Lombroso were all near the end of their lives when they
embraced Spiritualism.--See “Spiritualism,” by Joseph McCabe, page 207.

[48] Another adroit method of freeing one hand when the sitter thinks
he has evidence that the two hands of the medium are being kept busy,
is for the medium to keep up a continuous clapping of the hands,
working the hands near the face or some other exposed part of the body
and simply change the clapping of one hand against another to the
clapping of one hand against the body. In the dark the effect is the
same and the sitter believes that both the medium’s hands are busily
engaged in clapping.

[49] Not difficult to accomplish in the dark.

[50] Mr. Baggally had a reputation as a conjuror and I think he has
done much in the way of exposing mediums. He is also a believer
in telepathy and has recently published a book on that subject,
“Telepathy, Genuine and Fraudulent,” Chicago, 1918.

[51] The “human-clamp” is one of the simplest and yet one of the most
effective and mystifying means of table levitation. The medium and
her subjects place the tips of their fingers on the top of the table
lightly. The medium gently rocks the table back and forth until she
gets it in a correct position to place her foot, or the hem of her
dress, under one of the legs. When she perfects her position she
presses down with the hand above the table leg that is resting on her
foot. From then on it is only a matter of raising the foot to whatever
height she wishes the table to rise. If she wants it levitated to a
great height, she gives it an upward kick and then withdraws her foot,
and the table rises and falls true to the laws of gravitation.

[52] At one time during the series of tests in New York City, a man
from Philadelphia, Mr. Edgar Scott, who was standing in the background,
took advantage of the darkness and crawled along the floor to the
cabinet and attempted to grab Eusapia’s foot while she was using it
for trick purposes but just as his hand touched her foot Eusapia had a
spasm of screeching. Professors Jastrow and Miller were witnesses of
this fact.

[53] Palladino wanted her own interpreter, also a personal friend,
but that obstacle was avoided. Neither was her business manager, Mr.
Hereward Carrington, present on this particular occasion.

[54] The full details of this seance were published in the _Journal of
the American Society for Psychical Research_, Section “B,” August, 1910.

[55] In an interview with Walter Littlefield, a noted journalist,
Palladino revealed three methods by which she was able to employ
substitution in regard to hands at the table, four in regard to foot
substitution, half a dozen methods of table levitation, several ways
of producing knocks, two ways in which she produced the illusion of
a current of air coming from her forehead. She told him that she was
not annoyed when caught practicing tricks, nor did she deny their use
when caught. She said to him, _“All mediums indulge in tricks--all.”_
She also told him that she was a good Catholic, went to Mass,
made her confession, and said she hated to hear people talk about
“super-normal,” or “supernatural” phenomena.

The famous “current of air from the forehead” which Mr. Littlefield
mentions was simply her breath blown with force and diverted by her
under lip.

[56] I am informed on good authority that Eusapia threw her legs into
the laps of her male sitters! That she placed her head upon their
shoulders, and did various other things calculated to confuse and
muddle men, all of which was explained on the theory of “hysteria.” In
her younger days Eusapia was a buxom woman and it is not strange that a
lot of old scientists were badly flabbergasted by such conduct.

[57] See Appendix D.

[58] I have a full record of the proceedings in my reference file.

[59] In order to prove that fraud and trickery were the tools which
had been used in fleecing the unwary, magicians were induced to appear
in evidence, and on May 27, 1888, Alexander Hermann gave a public
Demonstration at the Academy of Music in New York City for the purpose
of duplicating the phenomena produced by Diss Debar and as an aid to
the New York Press Club Fund.

The audience included many prominent people and notables including
Col. Cockerell; Edward S. Stokes, of the Hoffman House; Joseph Howard;
District Attorney Fellows; Ex-Judge Donohue; Lawyer Newcombe; Judge
Hilton; _Luther R. Marsh_; and “Dr.” Lawrence, one of the attaches of
the Diss Debar Temple.

Professor Hermann read spirit messages, did table tipping, cabinet,
light seance, and produced spook pictures, finishing with a dark seance
of _ghostly_ music and materializations.

[60] _New York Times_, April 21, 1888.

[61] _New York World_, June 18, 1888.

[62] When the London press was full of sensational stories following
the arrest of Laura and Theodore Jackson, Carl Hertz, on picking up his
paper one morning, was astonished to recognize the woman who had lured
young girls into joining her immoral cult as Ann O’Delia Diss Debar,
with whom he had measured swords at the Marsh trial. He got in touch
with Scotland Yard immediately and gave it all the information he had
regarding Diss Debar’s connection with fraud activities.

[63] “Miss Croisdale, who was one of the victims, testified that she
had been initiated into the ‘Theocratic Unity,’ the sect which the
Jacksons claimed to head, with a rope fastened about her; passes were
made over her, she said, with a lamp, water and a saw: Jackson told her
that he was Christ re-incarnated. Miss Croisdale then described the
oath in which she swore she would allow no one else to hypnotize her
and she would keep all the secrets under the penalty of ‘submitting
myself to a deadly and hostile current of will set in motion by the
Chief of the order, with which I would be slain or paralyzed without
visible weapons, as if blasted by lightning.’ Mrs. Jackson (or Diss
Debar) looked as if she wished to carry out the threat on the spot.
Miss Croisdale further testified that Theodore had outraged her in
his wife’s presence. Jackson declared he was physically incapable and
demanded a doctor’s examination to prove his statement.”--Dispatch from
the _London Times_ in the _New York Sun_, October 11, 1901.

[64] _Chicago Daily Tribune_, August 14, 1906.

[65] _New York Sun_, October 11, 1901.

[66] If alive she is now (1924) seventy-five years old.

[67] See Appendix E for Police Record.

[68] If the reader cares to look the matter up I would refer him to
Podmore’s “Modern Spiritualism,” Vol. II, pages 204 and 221; also
to the story of Dr. Slade in the same volume; to the proceedings of
the American S. P. R., Vol. II, part I, pages 17, 36–59; to Abbot’s,
“Behind the Scenes with Mediums,” pages 114 to 192; to “Revelations of
a Spirit Medium,” page 121–157; to “Bottom Facts,” pages 143–159; to
the Report of the Seybert Commission; “Spirit Slate Writing,” by Wm. E.
Robinson, and newspaper exposures without number.

[69] According to “The Medium and Daybreak,” October 6, 1876, Slade
“_discovered_” the phenomena of slate-writing while experimenting at
the private house of Mr. Gardiner Knapp, New Albany, Indiana, where
Slade was visiting.

[70] As he reached for the sponge, which had been placed purposely on
centre of table, he held slate just below range of vision and with
the reaching for sponge, twisted slate around, blank side on top and
pretended to wipe off the sentence he had “read”--when in fact he had
written something entirely different.

[71] In regard to involuntary and subconscious table rapping and
tapping: Some people rap and tip table in all seances of table tipping
and rapping. I have attended seances where I have caught some one
obligingly cheating to relieve the monotony, and the imposition once
started is forced to be kept up.

[72] Coined by Andrew Jackson Davis, in 1845, and meaning the
hereafter. Now used frequently by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

[73] See Appendix F.

[74] In those days there were no dry plates and with the old “wet”
plates it was quite possible to expose a plate, develop it, and then
prepare it again and expose it the second time. When this was done both
pictures appeared in the print. Such a plate could be used under the
strictest test conditions without detection.

[75] In speaking of Spirit photography, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle usually
brings up as proof positive, that his fairy photographs are genuine.
According to the _London Star_, December 20, 1921, there were many
interesting developments regarding these:

“Messrs. Price and Sons, the well known firm of candle makers, inform
us that the fairies in this photograph are an exact reproduction of a
famous poster they have used for years, to advertise their night lights.

“‘I admit on these fairies there are wings, whereas our fairies have no
wings,’ said a representative of the firm to a _Star_ reporter, ‘but,
with this exception, the figures correspond line for line with our own

[76] I would like to say for the benefit of the reader that DeVega is
a skilled magical entertainer; has invented a number of legerdemain
feats; contributed a number of interesting articles to magical
publications; is a skilled artist and a clever photographer. I was
very fortunate in being able to secure a man of his ability for the

[77] On March 5, 1923, Harry F. Young, known as “The Human Fly,” fell
ten stories from a window ledge of the Hotel Martinqiue, New York City.
He succumbed before he reached the hospital.

For the benefit of those who do not know, “A Human Fly” is an acrobat
who makes a specialty of scaling tall buildings, simply clinging to the
apertures or crevices of the outward architecture of such building for
the edification of an assembled throng, for which he receives a plate
collection, a salary or is engaged especially for publicity purposes.
It is not a very lucrative profession and its dangers are many.

[78] On April 14, 1922, in New York City, Sir Arthur, according to his
book, “Our American Adventure,” attended a seance given by a young
Italian by the name of Pecoraro. During the seance the name Palladino
was given and he was told that the famous medium was present. A voice
from the cabinet, supposedly Palladino’s, said, “I, who used to
call back the Spirits, now come back as a Spirit myself,” to which
Sir Arthur answered, “Palladino, we send you our love and our best
encouragement.” However, the force was broken by “the absurd and vile
dancing of the table,” and there was no physical manifestation. This
shows Sir Arthur’s will to excuse even Palladino, who was on numerous
occasions exposed as a fraudulent medium.

[79] _ALL_ Spiritualists say that.

[80] Dr. A. T. Schofield wrote in the _Daily Sketch_, February 9, 1920,
that thousands of persons were estimated by a famous mental specialist
to have been driven to the asylum through Spiritualism. A truly pitiful

[81] Letter from Sir Arthur to H. H. (dated April 2, 1920): “I have had
very conclusive evidence since my two books were written. Six times I
have spoken face to face with my son, twice with my brother and once
with my nephew, all beyond doubt in their own voices and on private
matters, so for me there is not, nor has been for a long time, any
doubt. I _know_ it is true, but we can’t communicate that certainty to
others. It will come--or not, according to how far we work for it. It
is the old axiom, ‘Seek and ye shall find.’”

[82] Report of trial before Mr. Justice Darling--_Morning Post_, July
16, 1920.

[83] I have it on the positive word of Stuart Cumberland, who was at
one of the seances of the “Masked Medium” and he gave me definite
specifications and positive facts of the reading of the initials in
the ring submitted by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the “Masked Medium”
whom he said possessed remarkable powers. Stuart Cumberland told me a
number of ways this feat could be done. Among them, the black boxes
were exchanged surreptitiously in the dark, and then brought back. It
is an easy thing to present a box for inspection and yet have false
compartments in it so that the contents will fall out. It was only
after the methods were told innumerable times to Sir Arthur that he
condemned it as a fraud.

[84] According to the _New Orleans Times-Picayune_, March 9, 1923,
Clarence Thomson, self-styled missionary, President and member of the
Board of Directors of the International Psychical Association, was
fined $25 and sentenced to serve 30 days in jail. He admitted he had
been arrested in Chicago and Kansas City for conducting seances, but
said he had been honorably discharged.

[85] Other performers are doing this feat. I have performed it
regularly for thirty years without any supernatural power whatever.

[86] See Davenport chapter.

[87] These articles were syndicated, _New York American_, Sept. 3rd,

[88] _Morning Post_, July 16, 1920.

[89] See Appendix G.

[90] This was not known to Lady Doyle. If it had been my Dear Mother’s
Spirit communicating a message, she, knowing her birthday was my most
holy holiday, surely would have commented on it.

[91] So far, all of the several seances of investigation held under
the auspices of the Scientific American, have failed in proving the
existence of supernatural power or force, such as might with logical
consistency be conceded as psychic.

Valentine, the Wilkesbarre medium, proved to be a failure. Rev. (?)
Jessie K. Stewart the same. Mrs. Elizabeth Allen Tomson of Chicago, a
complete fiasco, not possessing sufficient courage to attempt a sitting
other than under conditions and in a place prescribed by herself. And
lastly the Italian lad, Nino Pecoraro, has accomplished nothing beyond
the possibility of human exertion, and failed utterly in so doing when
securely fettered, as proved to be the case, when I personally did the
tying. See also Appendix H.

And from the results gotten thus far from the series of sittings with
this “medium” it is safe to predict that the final analysis will place
him in the same category as all others to date.

[92] According to Spiritualistic publications The Dialectical Society
never made a full report. The “Reports” of sub-committees only were
published by Spiritualist papers used by writers in books but such
_reports_ were based on “hear-say” evidence taken from Spiritists.
They told their ghost stories to Committees and they were believed.
There never was a unanimous report or conclusion. The non-Spiritual
(?) members of the Dialectical Society refused to have anything to
do with the investigation. The great majority of the Committee were
full-fledged Spiritualists, and the few whom they claimed to have
convinced were simply credulous.

[93] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle seems to imagine that all the newspapers
in the world are against him. After his Australian tour he accused the
Australian papers of refusing to publish the truth about his seances.
Writing about American newspapers in his book, “An American Adventure,”
he says: “The editors seem to place the intelligence of the public
very low, and to imagine that they cannot be attracted save by vulgar,
screaming headlines.

“The American papers have a strange way also of endeavoring to compress
the whole meaning of some item into a few words of headline, which, as
often as not, are slang.”

Even in Canada Sir Arthur claims to have badly used by the newspapers.
In “Our American Adventure” he writes: “There were some rather bitter
attacks in the Toronto papers, including the one leader in the _Evening
Telegram_, which was so narrow and illiberal that I do not think the
most provincial paper in Britain could have been guilty of it.

“It was to the effect that British lecturers took money out of the
town, that they did not give the money’s worth, and that they should be

“‘Poking Them in the Eye’ was the dignified title.

“It did not seem to occur to the writer that a comic opera or a bedroom
comedy was equally taking the money out of the town, but that the main
purpose served by lectures, whether one agreed with the subject or
not, was that they kept the public in first hand touch with the great
current questions of mankind. I am bound to say that no other Toronto
paper sank to the depth of the _Evening Telegram_ but the general
atmosphere was the least pleasant that I had met with in my American

[94] In an article in _Truth_, April, 1923, entitled “The New
Revelation,” by Rev. P. J. Cormican, S. J., he asks:

“Does the knighted prophet of the New Revelation (Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle) tell the whole truth about Spiritism? We think not. He says
nothing about the evil consequences, physical, intellectual and moral,
to those who dabble in Spiritism. He gives a one-sided account of the
matter. He says nothing about what Spiritism has done, and is still
doing, to fill our lunatic asylums all over the world. There are over
thirty thousand lunatics in England alone who lost their mind through
this modern necromancy. Doyle does not even hint at the countless cases
of insanity and suicide, of blasphemy and obscenity, of lying and
deception, of broken homes and violated troth, all caused by Spiritism.
To suppose that a God of truth and sanctity is giving a new message
through such sources and with such consequences, is blasphemy pure and
simple. Furthermore, to assert that this New Revelation is to supersede
a worn-out creed is both gratuitous and absurd. Christianity will last
till the crack of doom, when titled prophets shall have ceased to cross
the Atlantic in quest of American shekels.”

[95] Mrs. Feilding is Mme. Tomchik, the Polish medium examined by
Professor Ochorowiz, and is the best known medium who “levitates”
things without physical contact.

[96] At no time, to my knowledge, did the search include the orifices
of her body.

[97] In this trick I swallow (if one’s eyes are to be trusted) anywhere
from fifty to a hundred and fifty needles and from ten to thirty
yards of thread; then after a few seconds I bring up the needles all
threaded. The length of thread is governed by the size of my audience.
For instance, at the Hippodrome, in New York, I used one hundred and
ten feet of thread and two hundred needles; at the Berlin Winter Garden
one hundred feet of thread and one hundred needles. In the regular
large size theatres I use about eighty feet of thread and a hundred
needles but for ordinary purposes thirty-five feet of thread and
seventy-five needles are sufficient.

So far this trick has never been properly explained but that does
not prove that I have abnormal powers. This needle mystery has been
examined by a great many physicians and surgeons and in Boston at
Keith’s Theatre it was presented at a special performance to over a
thousand physicians and they were unable to explain it. However, there
is nothing abnormal in it. It is nothing more than a clever and natural

[98] That is, has a secret accomplice. One who does things to help
along “unknown.” One who is in the “click.”

[99] After my last seance with Mlle. Eva Mr. Feilding discovered by
accident that I was writing a book on the subject. He begged me not
to say a word or publish anything about the seances until after the
Society for Psychical Research had published a full report. Now that it
has done so there is nothing to keep me from writing my experiences.

[100] The result of his investigations are published in three books:
“Reality of Psychic Phenomena,” “Psychic Structures at Goligher
Circle,” and “Experiments in Psychical Science.”

[101] It would be difficult to convince me that the many things
photographed and described by Baron Schrenck-Notzing could be presented
under rigid test conditions.

[102] Dr. Troup, Professor of Psychology; Dr. Stormer, Professor of
Mathematics; Dr. Scheldrup, Professor of Physics; Dr. Monrad Krhn,
Professor of Neurology; Dr. (med.) Leegaard, and Mr. John Dammann, a
prominent expert of conjuring tricks.

[103] Guzek was exposed in Paris as I predicted, the exposure occurring
sooner than expected.

[104] One of the greatest women born in America.--H. H.

[105] This Spirit Message is taken from Doyle’s book, “The Case for
Spirit Photography,” English Edition.

[106] This and letters of Tyndall and Lewes, from “Report on
Spiritualism,” by J. Burns, pp. 229, 230, 265.

[107] “Spiritism, a Popular History,” by Joseph McCabe.

[108] “Master Workers,” McCabe.

[109] Florence Cook was repeatedly exposed.

[110] The “galvanometer” is an instrument used to control the medium.
It is an electric device provided with a dial and two handles, so
constructed that if the medium were to let go of either handle the
contact would be broken and the dial fail to register. The medium in
fooling the sitter simply placed one of the handles on the bare flesh
under her knee and gripping it there with her leg kept the circuit
intact and left one hand free to produce “spirits.”

[111] An honest scientist does not dream that his confidence is being
betrayed and that the bland innocence, the “stalling” for breath, or
the almost fainting scenes are only camouflages to help mal-observation
so that the medium can successfully ply her trade.

[112] The italics are mine.

[113] The reader will do well to read Tuke’s “Influence of the Mind
upon the Body” (or similar work) and he will find an explanation of
what grief will do to a sensitive mind.

[114] Perhaps so, but would not be accepted as evidence before any
court of equity.

[115] He has personally repeated the same thing to me.

[116] Drink is no excuse for crime.

[117] The great majority of Continental safes are opened by keys and
not by combination locks as in America.

[118] I firmly believe in the workings of the subconscious mind.

[119] _The Spirit Messenger_ and the _Star of Truth_ were published
in 1852 by R. P. Ambler of Springfield, Mass. They were “_edited and
composed by spirits_.” The Spirit of the Sixth Circle took entire
charge of the _Spirit Messenger_, and not even the publisher was
permitted to dictate in the least. There were elucidations by the
Spirits on “Hope, Life, Truth, Initiation, Marriage Relations, Evils of
Society, and Destiny of the Race.” _The Northwestern Orient_, published
in 1852 by C. H. White, contained communications from John Adams, Edgar
Allan Poe, John Wesley, John Whitefield, Thomas Paine, _et al._ It
also contained several poems by the Spirits. Copies are on file in my

[120] “When William was in a trance his father tried to bring him out
by slapping, pinching and other cruelty, and finally tried to pour
boiling water down his back. This failing, he took a blazing ember from
the hearth and placed it on the young man’s head, but William slept on,
with only the scars as reminders of his parent’s deep concern for his
well being and safety.”--“Eddy Brothers,” by Henry S. Olcott.

[121] I gave a pseudo seance for Sophie Irene Loeb and had two slates
which were examined by the Circle and marked. I asked if the Spirits
would manifest and when the slates were opened there was a message
containing a code word. Miss Loeb was astounded, for the message signed
by Jack London contained a word which she claimed no one in the whole
world knew about. I did it by trickery but she declared that if she had
not known I was a magician she would have believed readily that I had
psychic powers.

[122] A man by the name of Rider, professionally known as “Kodarz,”
exposed Bailey in New Zealand in 1916.

[123] Without any reservation she says she has investigated the
majority of mediums and given them a hundred per cent clean bill. She
writes that Eglinton actually materialized the spirit of Grimwaldi, the
great clown. Eglinton was detected on four different occasions and so
far as I have been able to learn, almost every medium she mentions in
her books has, at some time or other, been detected and exposed.

[124] See Appendix F.

[125] Maskelyne, Kellar, and Hoffmann were all three magicians who
changed their minds.

[126] Any prepared gambling device or game, like electrically
controlled steel dice; roulette; pointer and arrow revolving artifice;
prepared cards, either marked, concave or convex cut, which gives the
dealer the advantage at all times. Brace games include everything
from a put and take to the changing of a black bag on the top of an
innocent looking chiffonier. The games, while appearing to be governed
by the law of chance, are secretly controlled by the gambler, or his
confederate, in so subtle a manner that it is impossible for the poor
dupe, who wagers on the result, to detect it.

[127] Known as fishing.

[128] _Society for Psychical Research Proceedings_, Vol. XIV, pp. 380,

[129] “Second sight” was presented by Pinetti, the celebrated Italian
magician, at the Haymarket Theatre, London, England, Dec. 1, 1784.

[130] A girl named Shireen is holding a similar seance to-day and is
able to hit a bulls-eye with a rifle.

[131] A full detailed account of the clever work done by Professor
Lewis will be found in _Proceedings of the Society for Psychical
Research_, Vol IV, pp. 338–352.


  Academy of Music, New York, 11.

  “Ackroyd, Jack,” 124.

  Adams, John, 229.

  Adare, Lord, 47, 48, 273, 274.

  Albert, Prince, 240.

  Albus, Remigius, 94.

  “Alexander, Herr,” 249.

  Alexis, 253.

  _Amazing Seance and an Exposure_, 233.

  Ambler, R. P., 229.

  American Expeditionary Force, 182.

  American Magicians, Society of, 259, 260.

  _American_, New York, 148, 237.

  American Red Cross, 188.

  American Society for Psychical Research, 58.

  Andrews, 231.

  “Apport Medium,” 238.

  _Arabian Nights, The_, 35.

  Ava, Vera, 78.

  Bacon, 229.

  Baggally, Worthy W., 52, 63.

  Baggley, 169.

  Bailey, Charles, 238.

  Baldwin, S. S., 107.

  Bamberg, David, 259.

  Bamberg, Theodore, 259.

  Barlow, Mr., 126.

  Barnum, Phineas Taylor, 118.

  Barrett, Oliver R., 145.

  Barton, Clara, 188.

  Basch, Ernst, 263.

  Beadnell, Capt. C. Marsh, 176.

  _Behind the Scenes with Mediums_, 79.

  Belachini, 33, 248, 249.

  “Bengal Tiger,” 19.

  “Benicia Boy,” 19.

  Bennett, G. W., 200.

  Benoval, 254.

  Berol, William, 269.

  Berry, Catherine, 232.

  Bewitched Table, The, 263.

  “Bible Sellers,” 222.

  _Bible, Truth a Companion to_, 188.

  Bird, J. Malcolm, 159, 160.

  Bishop, Washington Irving, 43.

  Bisson, Juliette, 166, 167, 168, 170, 171, 172, 173.

  Blavatsky, Mme., 49.

  “Blind Tom,” 256.

  Bloomfield, Marie, 181.

  Bonaparte, Napoleon, 12.
    _See also_ Napoleon.

  _Borderland_, 64.

  Boston Athletic Association, 187.

  _Bottom Facts_, 87.

  _Bottom Writing_, 79.

  Boucicault, Dion, 34, 35.

  Brady, William A., 60.

  Brewster, Sir David, 42.

  British College of Psychic Science, 127, 211.

  Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 2.

  Browning, R. Barrett, 41, 42.

  Bryant, William Cullen, 42.

  Buguet, 120, 121.

  Burns, J., 198, 201.

  Burns, Mrs., 231.

  Burr, Mr., 181.

  Burton, Richard Francis, 35.

  Bury, Lord, 34.

  Bush, Edward, 124.

  Buxton, Mrs., 123, 124, 131, 132, 133.

  “Cabinet and rope mystery, Davenport,” 21.

  Cagliostro, 66, 96.

  Carriere, Eva, 166.

  Carrington, Hereward, 52, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 159, 160, 263.

  Carte, d-Oyley, 240.

  Carter, Capt. R. K., 89, 90.

  _Case for Spirit Photography, The_, 197.

  Catholic Church, 5, 10.

  Challis, Professor, 51.

  _Chemical News_, 199.

  Chiaia, Professor, 51.

  Cicero, 72.

  Circle of Conjurors in London, 164.

  “Circle, rules of,” 267.

  Coleman, Arthur, 241.

  Clark, Earl L., 181.

  Clarke, Bishop, 42.

  Cleveland, President, 12.

  Cockrell, Senator, 4, 71.

  Colby, Luther, 76.

  Colley, Archdeacon, 261.

  Collins, James, 133, 134.

  Columbine, St. Catherine of, 234.

  “Common Clay,” 256.

  _Communication_, 233, 234.

  Comstock, Ph.D., Daniel Fisk, 159.

  Conference to the Psychological Studies at Paris, 34.

  “Confession,” Margaret Kane’s, 15.

  Conjurers, Circle of, 164.

  Cook, Florence, 184, 203, 204, 241.

  Cook, Professor Harry, 183, 205.

  Cormican, S.J., Rev. P. J., 164.

  Corner, Mrs., 204.

  Cornyn, John, 182.

  County Medical Society, 182.

  Crawford, Lord, 273.

  Crawford, Dr. W. J., 173, 174, 175, 215.

  Crewe, 123, 129.

  Crewe Circle, 197.

  Croisdale, Miss, 77.

  Cromwell, Oliver, 232.

  Crookes, Sir William, 46, 47, 183, 199, 200, 202, 203, 205, 266.

  Cropsey, James, 224.

  Cross, Judge, 76.

  Cumberland, Stuart, 26, 144, 147, 149.

  Curry, Dr., 189.

  _Daily Express_, London, 147.

  _Daily Sketch_, 143.

  _Daily Telegraph_, London, 178.

  _Daily Tribune_, Chicago, 78.

  d’Albe, E. E. Fournier, 166, 174, 175, 216.

  Dammann, John, 177.

  “Dark seances,” 25.

  Darling, Justice, 144.

  Davenport Brothers, The, 17–37, 148, 161, 249, 257.

  Davenport, Ira Erastus, 17–37, 148, 162, 235, 258.

  Davenport, Mrs., second, 18.

  Davenport, Ruben Briggs, 14, 271.

  Davenport, William Henry Harrison, 17–37.

  Davis, Andrew Jackson, 117.

  Davis, W. S., 11, 16, 54, 56, 57, 59, 60.

  De Angelus, Jefferson, 224.

  Dean, Hope, 141.

  Deland, Margaret, 206.

  Demis, Dr., 172.

  Dessenon, M., 121.

  Devant, 213.

  De Vega, 129.

  “Dexterity, physical,” 20.

  Dialectical Society, 160, 200, 201, 202.

  Dickens, Charles, 19, 229.

  Didier, Alexis, 250, 251, 254, 255.

  Dimension, Fourth, 238.

  Dingwall, Eric, 63, 168, 169, 170, 171.

  Diss Debar, Ann O’Delia, 39, 66, 69–78, 276.

  Diss Debar, General, 69, 71.

  Donkin, Sir Horatio, 80, 81, 82.

  Donohue, Ex-Judge, 71.

  Donovan, D. C., 32.

  Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, 7, 40, 46, 48, 59, 83, 117, 124, 126, 133,
        138–165, 202, 205, 207, 209, 210, 233, 236, 237, 238, 258, 266,
        267, 268, 270, 273, 275, 277–280.

  Doyle, Charles A., 139.

  “Doyle, Dicky,” 139.

  Doyle, John, 139.

  Doyle, Kingsley, 237, 238.

  Doyle, Lady, 139, 147, 150, 152, 157, 158, 160, 161, 233, 278, 279.

  Dumas, Alexander, 19.

  Dunraven, Lord, 273.

  Ectoplasm, 166–179.

  Eddy Brothers, 233, 234.

  Eddy, Horatio, 233, 234.

  Eddy, Mary, 234.

  Eddy, Warren, 234.

  Eddy, Webster, 233, 234.

  Eddy, William, 233.

  Edmonds, Judge John W., 42, 118, 242, 277.

  _Edwin Drood, Mystery of_, 229.

  Ellington, William, 241, 260–263.

  Encyclopedia, Larousse’s, 252.

  Ernest, B. M. L., 245.

  Eva, Mlle., 167, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 176, 178.

  _Evening Mail_, New York, 208.

  _Evening News_, London, 236.

  _Evening Telegram_, New York, 164.

  _Evening World_, New York, 181.

  _Evidences of Spiritualism_, 32.

  Evils of society, 229.

  Expeditionary Force, American, 182.

  _Experiments in Psychical Science_, 173.

  _Exposure, Amazing Seance and an_, 233.

  _Express_, Denver, 277, 278, 279.

  “Fair play, English,” 29.

  _Fallacies of Spiritualism, The_, 188.

  Fay, Annie Eva, 204, 212, 215.

  Fay, William M., 18, 23, 27, 34.

  Fechner, 83.

  Feilding, Hon. Everard, 52, 53, 63, 166, 169, 170, 171, 173.

  Feilding, Mrs., 166.

  Fellows, District Attorney, 71.

  Ferguson, J. B., 26, 28, 31, 148.

  First Society of Spiritualists, 16.

  Fish, Mrs., 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9.
    _See also_ Underhill, Mrs.

  Fox, John D., 1.

  Fox, Kate, 1–16.

  Fox, Margaret, 1–16, 271.
    _See also_ Kane, Margaret Fox.

  “Fox Sisters, The,” 1–16, 38, 39, 110, 141, 203.

  France, Emperor and Empress of, 43.
    _See also_ Napoleon.

  Franklin, Sir John, 4.

  Fraud, spiritualism a, 10;
    magicians as detectors of, 244.

  Fullerton, Geo. S., 83.

  _Fun_, London, 41.

  Funk, Dr., 11.

  Funk, Isaac K., 275.

  Furness, Horace Howard, 84, 195.

  Gardner, Dr., 117.

  Garfield, President, 187.

  General Assembly of Spiritualists, 156.

  Gilchrist, J. B., 131.

  Glenconner, Lady, 124, 144.

  Goligher Circle, 173, 174, 175, 176, 216.

  Goligher, Kathleen, 173, 175, 176, 178.

  Gow, David, 177.

  Greeley, Horace, 3.

  Grossman, George, 144.

  “Guardian angel,” 237.

  Guiteau, Charles J., 187.

  Gullots, Vincenzo, 236.

  Guppy, Mrs., 230, 232, 240.

  Guzek, Jean, 178.

  Hackney Spiritualistic Society, 125.

  Hall, Atlanta, 269.

  Hamilton, Duke of, 19, 35, 36.

  “Handcuff King,” 211.

  Handcuff trick, 258.

  Hare, Professor, 51, 239.

  Harris, Mrs., 232.

  Harrison, Will, 12, 120.

  Haselmeyer, 263.

  Hauffe, Madame, 234.

  Hayes, Father, 241.

  Hazard, Thomas R., 194.

  Heenan, John C., 19.

  Heinberger, Alexander, 249.

  Henderson, 149.

  Heredia, Father de, 114.

  Hermann, Alexander, 71, 248.

  Herne, 81, 230, 231.

  _Herald_, New York, 180.

  Hertz, Carl, 72, 73, 74, 75, 77.

  Heuze, Paul, 172, 178.

  Hicks, Leonard, 145.

  Hilton, Judge, 71.

  Hirons, Mabelle, 188.

  Hodgson, Dr. Richard, 52.

  Hoffmann, 244, 252, 258.

  Home, Daniel Dunglas, 38–49, 59, 67, 80, 202, 203, 242, 273, 274, 275.

  _Home’s, D. D., Life and Work_, 46.

  Hooker, Dr. Samuel C., 246.

  Hope, William, 123, 124, 129, 130, 131, 132.

  Houdin, Madame Robert, 255, 278.

  Houdin, Robert, 33, 36, 249, 251–255, 257, 258.

  “Houdin, Unmasking of Robert,” 252.

  Houdini, 20, 21, 74, 82, 94, 139, 140, 143, 146, 149, 150, 151, 155,
        156, 158–160, 167, 168, 174, 176, 211–214, 246, 263, 279, 280.

  Howard, Joseph, 71.

  Howe, Mr., 76.

  Hubbell, Dr. J. B., 188.

  Hughes, John, 29.

  Hughes, Rupert, 58.

  “Human clamp,” 57.

  Human nature, 122.

  Humbuggery, spiritualistic, 12.

  Humbugs of the world, 118.

  Hunt, 139.

  Huxley, Professor, 198, 199.

  Huyler, Mrs., 276.

  Huylers, The, 275.

  Hyslop, 133.

  Inaudi, 257.

  _Incidents of My Life_, 41.

  _Infelicity_, 19.

  _Influence of the Mind upon the Body_, 208.

  Information, how mediums obtain, 217.

  Initiation, 229.

  Intercourse, spirit, 211.

  International Psychical Association, 145.

  Investigations--Wise and Otherwise, 191–216.

  Irving, Edward, 234.

  Irving, Sir Henry, 30, 271.

  Jackson, Laura, 77.

  Jacobs, E., 33, 34.

  Jacoby, 34.

  Jaeger, Oscar, 177.

  “Jar of Honey,” 139.

  Jastrow, Professor, 58.

  Johnson, Mrs., 238.

  Johnson, Sam, 87.

  Jourman, Maître, 172.

  Judgment, Sanhedrim of, 164.

  Kane, Dr. Elisha Kent, 3, 9.

  Kane, Margaret Fox, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 16.

  Karcher, Juliet, 160.

  Keating, Frederick, 160.

  Kellar, Dean, 21, 28, 136.

  Kellar, Harry, 84, 85, 86, 87, 195, 223, 224, 225, 244, 247, 262,
        263, 266.

  Kellogg, James L., 54, 55, 56, 57, 58.

  _Key to Theosophy_, 49.

  Kidder, 26.

  King, John, 232.

  King, Kate, 143, 184, 203, 235.

  “Kluge Hans,” 260.

  Kluski, P. Frank, 178.

  Knapp, Gardiner, 79.

  Kodarz, 238.

  Krhn, Dr. Monrad, 177.

  Krotel, Asst. District Attorney, 142.

  “Lady Wildmere’s Fan,” 256.

  Landsfeldt, Countess, 68, 70.

  Lankester, Sir, 80, 81, 82.

  Laurillard, Edward, 144.

  Lawrence, “Dr.,” 71.

  Leadbeater, C. W., 238.

  Leegaard, Dr., 177.

  Lehrmann, Granville, 160.

  Leroy, Jean A., 264.

  Lescurboura, 160.

  Levitation, table, 54–57, 71.
    _See also_ Table lifting.

  Lewes, George Henry, 198, 199.

  Lewis, Professor H. Carvill, 261, 262.

  Leymaire, M., 120.

  _Life_, 229.

  _Light_, 203, 204, 261, 262.

  _Lights and Shadows of Spiritualism_, 41.

  Lincoln, Abraham, 12.

  Littlefield, Walter, 63.

  Liverpool riot, 28.

  Livingston, 55.

  Lodge, Raymond, 206.

  Lodge, Sir Oliver, 51, 145, 147, 205, 206, 207, 208, 266.

  Loeb, Sophie Irene, 237.

  “Loftus Troupe,” 224.

  Lombroso, Professor, 51.

  London Dialectical Society, 198.

  London, Jack, 229, 237.

  _London Magazine_, 238.

  London Psychical College, 166.

  Lord, Jennie, 234.

  Louis I of Bavaria, 67.

  Loyola, 234.

  Lunn, Sir Henry, 144.

  Lyon, Daniel Home, 45.

  Lyon, Jane, 44, 45, 46.

  Lytton, Sir E. Bulwer, 42.

  Magicians’ Club, 264.

  Magicians, Society of American, 210, 259.

  Manning, Husband, 145.

  Mare, Mlle., 172.

  Marsault, Maître, 172.

  Marsh, Luther R., 275.

  Martinka, Francis J., 263, 264.

  “Masked Lady,” 144, 149.

  Maskelyne, John Nevil, 80, 81, 204, 213, 244.

  Mass, Jim, 224, 225.

  _Master Workers_, 204.

  Marriage relations, 229.

  Marryat, Captain, 239.

  Marryat, Florence, 239.

  Marsh, Luther R., 70, 71, 72, 73, 75, 76.

  Martin, Alexander, 133, 134, 135.

  Martineau, Harriet, 2.

  McCabe, Joseph, 51, 203, 204, 232, 273, 275.

  _McClure’s Magazine_, 61.

  McCormick, Cyrus, 145.

  McCormick, Muriel, 145.

  McDougall, Dr. William, 159.

  McKenzie, J. Hewat, 127, 166, 211, 212, 214, 215.

  M----, Mrs., 183.

  “Medium and Daybreak,” 79, 201, 202, 230, 231, 232.

  Medium in the mask, the, 144.

  Mediums, how they obtain information, 217–228.

  _Memoirs of a Magician_, 252.

  Menken, Adah Isaacs, 19.

  Messant, Mrs., 69, 70.

  Miller, Professor Dickinson S., 54, 55, 58.

  Mitchell, C. R., 125.

  “_Mite, The Widow’s_,” 11, 275.

  _Modern Spiritualism_, 41, 79, 120.

  Monck, Dr., 232.

  Montez, Lola, 67, 76.

  Moreland, Beatrice, 256.

  _Morning Post_, London, 144, 149.

  Morritt, Charles, 259.

  Moses, Rev. Stainton, 120, 122.

  Mosley, Sidney A., 144, 233.

  Mumler, Wm. H., 117, 118, 119, 120, 122, 136.

  Munchausen, Baron, 229.

  “Murphy’s button,” 144.

  Myers, F. W. H., 64.

  Mystery, Torture Cell, 167.

  _Mystery of Edwin Drood_, 229.

  Napoleon I, 242, 243.

  National Spiritualists Association, 182.

  “Neck, the tie around the,” 22.

  Neilson, Adelaide, 276.

  Newcombe, Lawyer, 71.

  _Newcomes, The_, 139.

  _Newer Spiritualism_, 41.

  “New Revelation, The,” 164, 207.

  Newton, Mr., 16.

  New York Press Club Fund, 71.

  New York State Assembly of Spiritualists, 180.

  Neyland, Miss, 230.

  Nichols, Thomas L., 26.

  Nicol, Catherine, 142.

  Nielson, Ejner, 177, 178.

  Northwestern Orient, 229.

  Occult Committee of the Magic Circle, 126.

  Ochorowiz, Professor, 166.

  O’Connor, Billy, 264.

  Olcott, Col. Henry S., 234, 235, 236.

  Orion, Madame, 226.

  _Other World_, 236.

  _Our American Adventures_, 7, 141, 163, 164.

  “Ouija board,” 189, 190.

  Owen, Robert, 42, 51, 160.

  Oxenford, John, 19.

  Paine, Thomas, 229.

  Palladino, Eusapia, 50–65, 141, 142, 192, 233, 264.

  Papal opposition, 51.

  “Paradise,” 237.

  Parker, Commodore, 3.

  Patterson, S. E., 194.

  Patterson, Sarah, 182.

  Pecoraro, Nino, 159.

  Penylan, Wallace, 233.

  Philip of Neri, St., 234.

  Phillipi, Mons., 43.

  Phillips, Watts, 19.

  “Philosophy, preternatural,” 31.

  Photographers of England, Crewe, 123, 136.

  Photographic memory, 257.

  _Photography, Case for Spirit_, 197.

  Photography, spirit, 117–137.

  Pierce, President, 269.

  Piéron, Professor, 178.

  Pinetti, 254.

  Pitcher, Orville, 232.

  Podmore, Frank, 41, 79, 120, 121.

  Poe, Edgar Allan, 229.

  “Poking Them in the Eye,” 163.

  _Politikon_, 177.

  Polk, President, 249.

  Portal, Cochet M., 172.

  Portal, Mme., 172.

  _Popular Mechanics_, 145.

  _Post_, London, 25.

  Powell, Ellis, 155.

  Powell, Evan, 238.

  Powell, Frederick E., 88, 93, 155, 158.

  Powers, “occult,” 2.

  Powles, John, 185.

  “Preternatural philosophy,” 31.

  Price, Harry, 128.

  Prince, Ph.D., Walter Franklin, 159, 160.

  _Psychic Phenomena, Reality of_, 173.

  Psychic Science, British College of, 211.

  Psychical Association, International, 145.

  Psychical College, London, 116.

  Psychical Research, Society of, 41, 52, 53, 124, 163, 168, 173, 177,
        196, 252, 258, 261.

  Psychical Science, Experiments in, 173.

  Psychological Studies, Conference to the, 34.

  _Punch_, 139.

  Pyne, Warner C., 54, 57.

  Race, destiny of the, 229.

  “Rappings,” 2.

  Rasputin, 43.

  Reade, Charles, 19.

  Red Cross, American, 188.

  “Revelation, The New,” 164, 202.

  _Revelations of a Spirit Medium_, 79.

  _Revue Spirits_, 33, 120.

  Rhys, M., 36.

  Richet, Professor, 51.

  Richmond, Dr. C. M., 12.

  Rickards, Harry, 18.

  Rinn, Joseph F., 54, 57, 61, 145.

  Robin, Henri, 33.

  Robinson, William E., 79.

  Rope-tie, Davenport, 18, 20–24.

  Rope tricks, 17–37, 114, 258.

  Rosenthal, Baroness, 68, 70, 78.

  Rosner, 248.

  Rule, Margaret, 234.

  Russia, Czar of, 43, 99, 243.

  Rymer, Bendigo, 40.

  Rymer, J. S., 40.

  Salomen, Editha, 67, 68, 70.

  Sanhedrim of Judgment, 164.

  Sargent, John W., 54, 58, 65, 269.

  Savonarola, 234.

  Scheibner, 83.

  Scheldrup, Dr., 177.

  _Scientific American_, 158, 160.

  _Scientific American_ staff, 159.

  Schofield, Dr. A. T., 143.

  Scott, Edgar, 57.

  “Second Sight,” 254, 259.

  “Second sight artists,” 259.

  Sedgwick, Professor, 51.

  Seeing in the dark, 257, 258.

  Sellers, Coleman, 85.

  Seybert Commission, 9, 83–84, 86, 94, 193, 194, 195, 197, 262.

  Seybert, Henry, 193, 194.

  Seymour, Mr., 128.

  Shakespeare, 229.

  Shireen, 254.

  Siebert, Frau, 178.

  “Sir ----,” 226.

  Sixth Circle, Spirit of, 229.

  Slade confession, 95, 99.

  Slade, Dr. Henry, 30, 79, 80, 101, 195, 196, 260, 262.

  Slate writing, 79, 84, 101, 260.

  Society, evils of, 229.

  Society for the Study of Supernormal Pictures, 126.

  Society of American Magicians, 54, 88, 210.

  Society of Spiritualists, 2.

  Sothern, Edward A., 30.

  _Sphinx, The_, 264, 265.

  “Spirit, disembodied,” 2, 6.

  “Spirit extras,” 122, 124, 126, 127, 128, 129, 132, 133.

  Spirit intercourse, 211.

  Spirit manifestations, 1.

  Spirit photography, 117–137.

  _Spirit Messenger_, 229.

  Spirit states, 79.

  Spirit world, 2.

  Spiritual Athenæum, The, 44.

  Spiritual children, 271.

  Spiritual Institution, 231.

  _Spiritual Magazine_, 200.

  _Spiritualism_, 51, 203, 232, 242.

  Spiritualism, by-products of, 180.

  _Spiritualism, Fallacies of_, 188.

  _Spiritualism, Report on_, 198.

  _Spiritualism, Researches in_, 184.

  _Spiritualism, The Death Blow to_, 14, 271.

  Spiritualism, the founders of, 1–16.

  “Spiritualistic Humbugs,” 118.

  Spiritualist Society, 130.

  _Spiritualist, The_, 33.

  _Spiritualist, Wanderings of a_, 238.

  Spiritualist, what you must believe to be a, 229.

  Spiritualists, General Assembly of, 156, 180.

  Stamislaski, S. D., 178.

  Stamislawa, 178.

  Stange, Prof. Frederick, 177.

  _Star_, London, 124.

  _Star of Truth_, 229.

  Stead, 145, 146, 239, 267.

  Stewart, Alvin, 276.

  Stewart, Jessie K., 159.

  Stokes, Edward S., 71.

  Stormer, Dr., 177.

  St. Paul, 76.

  Stuart, Anna, 239.

  Subconscious mind, 223.

  _Sun_, New York, 77, 78, 156, 157.

  “Sunset,” Alvin Stewart, 276.
    _See also_ Stewart, Alvin.

  Swinburne, 19.

  “Swindle,” Fox, 16.

  Table levitation, 50, 54, 57, 71.

  _Telegraph_, London, 172.

  Telepathists, 258.

  Telepathy, 259.

  _Telepathy, Genuine and Fraudulent_, 52.

  _That Other World_, 43.

  _Theocrat, The_, 187.

  “Theocratic Unity,” 77.

  Theosophical Society, 238.

  _There Is No Death_, 185, 239.

  Thomas Brothers, 147, 148.

  Thompson, Mrs., 178, 215.

  Thompsons, the, 144, 145, 146, 150.

  Thomson, Clarence, 145.

  Thornton, Jeanette, 279.

  Thurs, Bergen Vigelius, 181.

  Tiedemann, Dr. Heinrich, 95, 99.

  _Times_, London, 42, 77, 242.

  _Times_, New York, 60, 61, 73, 76, 160, 172, 182.

  _Times-Picayune_, New Orleans, 145.

  _Times_, Washington, D. C., 181.

  Tomchik, Mme., 166.

  Tomson, Elizabeth Allen, 159.

  Torture Cell Mystery, 167.

  _Transcendental Physics_, 80.

  _Tribune_, Oakland, 149.

  “Tricks, all mediums indulge in,” 63.

  Trollope, T. A., 42.

  Troup, Dr., 177.

  Truesdell, John W., 87, 88.

  _Truth_, 125, 164, 229.

  _Truth a Companion to the Bible, The_, 188.

  Tuttle, Hudson, 95, 99.

  Twain, Mark, 229.

  Tyndall, Professor John, 198, 199, 200.

  Underhill, Mrs., 7, 8, 9.

  _Unmasking of Robert Houdin, The_, 252, 257.

  Valentine, 159, 160.

  Van Buren, President, 277.

  Vearncombe, Mr., 123, 126, 127.

  Verdier, M., 172.

  Varley, Cromwell, 200.

  Von Schrenk-Notzing, Baron, 174, 179.

  Walker, William, 160, 196, 197.

  Wallace, Mr., 199.

  _Wanderings of a Spiritualist, The_, 40.

  Weber, Professor, 51, 83.

  _Weekly Dispatch_, 273.

  Weiss, Remigius, 94, 99, 100.

  Wertheimer, Mr., 95, 98.

  Wesley, John, 229.

  Whipple, Sydney B., 278, 279.

  White, C. H., 229.

  White, Eliza, 235.

  Whitefield, John, 229.

  _Widow’s Mite and Other Psychic Phenomena_, 11, 275.

  Wilde, Oscar, 229, 256.

  Wilhelm, I., Kaiser, 248, 249.

  Williams, 81, 230, 231, 232, 241.

  Wilmann, Karl, 248.

  Wilson, M.D., A. M., 265.

  Windsor, H. H., 145.

  _World_, New York, 5, 11, 12, 13, 77, 182, 236.

  “World, Ten Super-women of the,” 19.

  Worrell, Richard I., 160.

  Wynn, Rev. Walter, 125.

  Wynne, 273.

  Young, Harry F., 140.

  Young, Mrs., 235.

  Zancig, Jules, 210.

  Zancig, Mrs., 212.

  Zancigs, the, 258.

  Zollner, Professor, 51, 80, 82, 83, 196.

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in the original book; otherwise they
were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; unbalanced quotation
marks were remedied when the change was obvious, and otherwise left

Illustrations in this eBook have been positioned between paragraphs
and outside quotations. In versions of this eBook that support
hyperlinks, the page references in the List of Illustrations lead to
the corresponding illustrations.

The index was not checked for proper alphabetization or correct page
references. Discrepancies between spellings in the Index and on
referenced pages were resolved in favor of the latter.

Text refers to “Tomson” and “Thomson”, and has both in the Index.

Transcriber removed redundant book title preceding page 1 and redundant
“Index” heading just before the Index.

Footnotes, originally at the bottoms of pages, have been resequenced,
collected, and moved to precede the Index.

The book refers twice to Dr. Monrad Krhn, but the correct spelling
is “Krohn”.

Page 11: “Expecting” may be a misprint for “Excepting”.

Page 27: “all South of Central America” was printed that way, but in
the image of the actual letter that is shown in the book, it is
“all South and Central America”.

Footnote 59, originally the third footnote on page 71: “attaches” was
printed that way, not as “attachés”.

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