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Communicating with the Dead (Original)

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Author Topic: Communicating with the Dead (Original)  (Read 3128 times)
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« Reply #165 on: January 19, 2008, 03:03:01 pm »

Sandra Taylor

Member # 2492

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   posted 07-17-2005 10:12 PM                       
Slate-writing 'Miracles'

Meers. Slade and Lancaster, In a Scene from the New Farce, "The Happy Medium; or No Spirits should be above Proof."

Plate VII. Carton from Entr'acte and Limelight of Henry Slade, the medium, and Professor Ray Lankester, October 1876. Published after the prosecution of Slade.

For some reason I have been unable to fathom, British slate-writing mediums are, and have been, almost nonexistent. This particular 'spirit' technique is peculiarly American, and every exponent who consented to be tested scientifically has come to grief.

The great spirit slate-writer was 'Dr.' Henry Slade, who visited London in 1876 and impressed a number of spiritualists and others. Professor Ray Lankester secured a sitting with him, saw how the trick was done, and published his exposure in The Times(48). He then charged Slade with having swindled him. (See Plate VII.) The case was heard at Bow Street Police Court on October 1, 1876, and the medium was sentenced to three months' hard labour. Owing to some legal flaw in the indictment, the sentence was quashed and before Ray Lankester could issue a fresh summons, Slade fled to the Continent(49.) He was often exposed(50), and his tricks have been published in full by John W. Truesdell(51). These tricks include the substitution of slates already written on for blank ones examined by the sitter; the writing on one side of a slate held flat to the underside of a table by the two thumbs of the medium (the remaining eight fingers being above the table), who has cemented a tiny piece of slate-pencil or chalk to the nail of one thumb, with which he can easily write the 'spirit message'; the surreptitious addition, to a pile of examined slates, of an unexamined one bearing a 'message,' and so on. Another notorious slate-writing medium was P. L. O. A. Keeler, who was exposed by Dr. W. F. Prince in a brilliant monograph(52). Another means of producing spontaneous writing on slates is by means of chemicals. When first written, the words are quite invisible, and the slate can be freely examined. In a few minutes the writing appears and the sitter is duly impressed. Finally, there are mechanical slates. I have a pair, which I bought for £8 from an American medium, which are marvels of mechanism. The slates can be handled by the victim, or even left in his possession: he would never discover the secret. Yet, at will, the four blank sides can be filled with any 'spirit' writing desired, in various colours, even when being held by the sitter. The secret is that the centres of the slates are in duplicate. Pressure on a certain spot of the frame allows one flap to fall, instantly and silently, into the frame of the other slate, where it is automatically locked. Both inside surfaces of the slates are then covered with writing. The slates can then be turned over and the operation repeated, making four sides of writing. Any reader sufficiently interested in slate-writing tricks should read the exhaustive work(53) by 'Chung Ling Soo' (i.e. William Ellsworth Robinson).

(48) September 16, 1876.
(49) Where he impressed J. C. F. Zöllner, the astronomer. See his Transcendental Physics, London, 1880.
(50) See Boston Herald, February 2, 1886.
(51) The Bottom Facts Concerning the Science of Spiritualism, New York, 1883.
(52) Proc., Am. SPR, New York, Vol. XV, pp, 315-592.
(53) Spirit Slate Writing and Kindred Phenomena, New York and London, 1899.
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