Atlantis Online
October 15, 2019, 04:40:23 am
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: 'Europe's oldest city' found in Cadiz
http://mathaba.net/rss/?x=566660
 
  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

The Fox Sisters and the Spiritualism Movement

Pages: 1 2 [3]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: The Fox Sisters and the Spiritualism Movement  (Read 746 times)
Sandra
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4714



« Reply #30 on: October 14, 2009, 01:15:35 am »

Evidently the first cause started the whole affair. We, ourselves, paid a visit and a dollar to the women known as the Rochester rappers. We were greatly amused - not by the jugglery itself; which was not to be compared to the tricks of a professed wizard - but by the sublime gravity of our companions, of whom there were six; we, ourselves, being the seventh. Of these seven, four were gentlemen connected with influential journals, one was a celebrated artist and an occasional writer, and all present were more or less versed in the natural sciences. All were moreover usually regarded as shrewd men of the world.

We have been thus careful in specifying these facts; because the circumstance that only one other gentleman of the party unequivocally sided with us in our opinion, expressed as soon as we were out of the "haunted" house, is to our mind a strong proof of the facility with which even the higher order of intellects may be deluded in such cases.
Report Spam   Logged
Sandra
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4714



« Reply #31 on: October 14, 2009, 01:15:59 am »

But was it a delusion?

In order to solve this question, we shall minutely describe our experience, merely premising that the mediums in question are generally admitted to be genuine cases.

We arrived later than the rest of our friends, and found the spiritual manifestations in full blast, and the whole party seated round and close to an oblong table with the gravest possible faces. Indeed we observed in two or perhaps three of the countenances an expression of superstitions awe, which at once told us that all hope of free critical judgment was for the time over with them. With corresponding gravity, although intensely tickled by the latent humor of the whole proceeding, we took our place at one end of the table facing the three mediums.

And here - to avoid being mistaken for mere matter of fact skeptics - we think it as well to state that apart from long and grave labors in the domain of what is called mental science, metaphysics, and the most abstract transcendental philosophy, we were probably the only one of the party who had seen and tried an elaborate course of experiments in animal magnetism, the effect of narcotic stimulants and kindred subjects. It is also possible that we were as well versed in the facts of physical science, most useful for purposes of deception, as any of our companions. We were, therefore, fully prepared to believe in spiritual agency the moment that material agency should appear to us impossible, and were furthermore ready to suspend our judgment in the event of even extreme improbability of possible means being employed.
Report Spam   Logged
Sandra
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4714



« Reply #32 on: October 14, 2009, 01:16:25 am »

On taking our seats we first quietly scanned the countenances of the pretended mediums. Of these we saw four, although at our first entrance three only were present. One was an elderly woman of a very peculiar aspect, with a thin face, somewhat cadaverous of complexion, and we do not remember to have heard her speak during the whole sitting, which lasted for an hour. Next to her sat a fat lady of some thirty to forty years of age… Next to her sat a pretty little dark-eyed girl…The fourth medium was a juvenile counterpart of the stout lady, and we gave her the least share of our attention.

The stout lady was the woman of business, and the speaker of the party, although the girls answered freely when spoken to. Their remarks showed great cunning as if they had caught a smattering from some magnetizer and physiologist, and well conned their lesson. What they said was very judicious and non-committing.

We heard, for the first time, raps purporting to be made by spiritual agency.
Report Spam   Logged
Sandra
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4714



« Reply #33 on: October 14, 2009, 01:16:35 am »

We had been told beforehand, by enthusiastic believers, that the raps were peculiar -unlike any other noises, etc. Such, however, was not the fact. They were very ordinary raps, such as we have produced ourselves since, and such as anybody can readily imitate. How they were produced is a matter of little importance, whether by cracking joints, (as in the case of a lady we know who can imitate them to perfection by her power over the joints of her toes,) whether by pieces of wood fastened to the knees, by tapping the heels together…or by simply touching the leg of the table with the toe, which appears as feasible a plan as any other. Of course, under different circumstances, raps are produced in different and suitable ways. What makes this really unimportant, though apparently the most difficult of explanation, is a fact in acoustics of which the majority of persons are utterly ignorant. This fact, which ignorance invariably denies, until conquered by experimental demonstration, is, that the human ear is totally unable to distinguish the origin of a sound apart from all other suggestive influence. It is almost impertinent to repeat what is now so well known, that the vulgar notion, formerly prevalent, of a ventriloquist throwing his voice to a distance, is mere fable. Everybody now knows that all ventriloquism can do, is to modify the sound so as to resemble one heard from a distance, and that as to the direction from which he pretends that it comes, the delusion is solely an effect upon the imagination of his audience, produced by calling their attention to a given point.
Report Spam   Logged
Sandra
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4714



« Reply #34 on: October 14, 2009, 01:16:47 am »

Our knowledge of this simple fact caused us to smile at the statements of some of our friends as to the sounds evidently coming from this or that part of the table, from the floor, etc. As to their production by electricity when there was no necessity for any such complication, we need not discuss its improbability. We see no doubt why the supernatural sounds should not have been common raps produced by the concussion of two hard substances, and that, for the present, is all we need say on that head.

But when it was proposed that we, in our turn, should put questions unknown to the mediums, and receive answers, the case assumed a widely different aspect. Here might be, if the answers were correct, evidence of a power equal, at least, to the loftiest pretension of magnetic clairvoyance, and certainly out of the course of everyday phenomena.

This was the system. One rap signified "No." Three raps represented "Yes;" and two meant "dubious," that is, had no meaning at all. More elaborate queries were to be rapped out by calling the alphabet. But as my questions were, with one exception, all answered incorrectly, I did not care to pursue further investigations.
Report Spam   Logged
Sandra
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4714



« Reply #35 on: October 14, 2009, 01:17:02 am »

It may strike the reader as curious that six out of seven questions, each requiring a negative or affirmative answer, should have been answered wrongly, even by chance. But the fact is, we reflected beforehand that, after giving the one rap (negative), it would be quite possible for a practiced observer's eye to detect in the expression of a person's face whether or not he or she expected anything more. To guard against this contingency, we assumed an impenetrable mask, looked satisfaction at no, when yes was the real answer; and all expectation, when it was really sufficient. By thus meeting spiritual mediums with Yankee cuteness, we succeeded in obtaining what to us appeared the most conclusive evidence of the imposture. By the way, in the one instance in which the "spirits" were right, it was not a mere yes or no query, but the name of a friend which was to be guessed. We wrote the words Mary Jane and Ellen without answer, but at the name Eliza, which was the correct name, the affirmative raps were given. Doubtless our manner in writing this name, and the fact that we then paused, (in itself conclusive,) determined the answer of the "medium."

Of the answers given to our friends, some were right and some were wrong, and we lost much time in vain attempts to disabuse them of the species of superstition which seemed partially to have possessed them. We have since been intimate with numbers of highly educated and intelligent men infected with this epidemic delusion. But in all such cases they were enthusiastic to a degree, and more apt to be guided by the passions than the intellect. We regard the superstition itself as a mental disease…
Report Spam   Logged
Sandra
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4714



« Reply #36 on: October 14, 2009, 01:17:38 am »

"You shall now hear," said the fat lady, by way of winding up the exhibition, "all the noises at once."

Immediately the spirits thus familiarly made to rap to order set up such a rapping, that we are persuaded all the four mediums must have been at work simultaneously, whatever might have been the precise modus operandi. We could hardly restrain a burst of laughter at this preposterous finale, which, to an unprejudiced mind, was itself an admission of imposture, and we certainly gave the little dark-eyed medium so significant a look that she could neither restrain a slight smile, (and we fancied a blush - but mediums never blush,) nor restrain herself from turning aside her head. In so doing she exchanged a look with "Fatima," as we had mentally baptized the stout medium, a look which would have told us all - had we not been perfectly satisfied already. This united rapping was repeated by the mediums standing in various parts of the room, and decided our belief that the cause of the noises was about the persons of the mediums, and not underneath the floor or in the table itself.
Report Spam   Logged
Sandra
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4714



« Reply #37 on: October 14, 2009, 01:17:49 am »

A little general conversation ensued, but instead of joining our friends in listening to the non-committal philosophy of the profound "Fatima," we employed ourselves more agreeably in a little playful badinage with little Dark-eyes.

"How on earth do you manage to sleep," said we, "with all these troublesome fellows of spirits rapping about your room?"

"Oh!" said she, smiling, "of course they never rap when I am in bed!"

"Why not - of course?" thought we, but as it is neither polite nor politic to "corner" a young lady, we contented ourselves with stating the very unexpected fact that we ourselves were mediums!

"Indeed!" said Dark-eyes, looking puzzled.

"Yes," we continued gravely, "and what most annoys us is the fact that the raps come when we are alone at night and in bed!"
Report Spam   Logged
Sandra
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4714



« Reply #38 on: October 14, 2009, 01:18:17 am »

"When you are alone?" said the medium, with unequivocal astonishment in her tone.

"Does it appear to you so incredible?" said we, laughing; but we added with courteous irony – "Of course no one can believe more devoutly in spiritual manifestations than a medium!"

"Are you satisfied, gentlemen?" said "Fatima."

"Perfectly!" we replied; and though very much in the humor to stop and have a little more fun with the amiable mediums, as a ten-dollar party was waiting to communicate with the spirits of the celestial spheres, we departed, after many sincere protestations on both sides, of a desire to meet again and try some further experiments. Since that day, however, the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches, have choked up our spiritual aspirations, and caused all our spare dollars to melt away in purely material channels. Yet, we sometimes flatter ourselves that little Dark-eyes may occasionally dream of us, and even "Fatima" call to mind the devout gravity with which we gazed on the paper with the wrong answers, and assured her - so sincerely - of our perfect and complete satisfaction. Never was a dollar more profitably invested than in that brief course of occult science!

http://victorian-magic.blogspot.com/2006/05/rochester-rappers.html
Report Spam   Logged
Pages: 1 2 [3]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy