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described in my “Notes of Personal Evidence," I felt sure that if any of my scientific friends could witness them they would be satisfied that they were not due to trickery, and were worthy of a careful examination. I therefore first invited Dr. W. B. Carpenter to attend some of our sittings, telling him that I could not guarantee anything without a series of, say, half a dozen visits. He came one evening, the only other persons present being the medium-Miss Nicholmy sister, and myself. After a short time a few raps were heard on the table, and these were repeated, sometimes in different tones, and sounding, at request, in any part of the table. They were not, however, strong, and soon came to an end. Dr. Carpenter sat quite still, and made hardly any remark. He knew from my statements that this was a mere nothing to what often occurred, and though I strongly urged him to come at least two or three times more, I never could 'prevail upon him to come again.
I then tried to get Professor Tyndall to take up the subject seriously, giving him an account of the results I had obtained, the tests I had applied, and the general conditions that seemed favourable or unfavourable. He replied in a letter which I now have before me, and as it shows how difficult it then was to get any man of eminence to keep an open mind on this subject, I think it worth reproducing.
MY DEAR WALLACE,
“Your sincerity and desire for the pure truth are perfectly manifest. If I know myself, I am in the same vein. I would ask one question.
“Supposing I join you, will you undertake to make the effects evident to my senses? Will you allow me to reject all testimony, no matter how solemn or respectable? Will you allow me to touch the effects with my own hands, see them with my own eyes, and hear them with my own ears? Will you, in short, permit me to act towards your phenomena as I act, and successfully act, in other departments of nature?
“I really wish to see the things able to produce this
conviction in a mind like yours, which I have always considered to be of so superior a quality,
"I am, very faithfully,
I replied to this extraordinary letter by telling him that I could "undertake” nothing, but that the phenomena had occurred at various times when many different persons had been present; that, of course, he could examine and test them as he pleased, but that if he really wished to witness the phenomena in all their variety, I strongly advised him to be a passive spectator on the first two or three visits, and only apply tests and impose conditions at a later period. I asked him to name a day, and he came.
At the very beginning he forgot or purposely acted contrary to my advice. On being asked to sit at the table with my sister, Miss Nichol, and myself, he declined, saying, "I never form part of my experiments. I will sit here and look on "-drawing his chair about a yard away. So we three sat without him, with our hands on the table; and rather to my surprise the rapping sounds began, and were .much stronger and more varied in character than when Dr. Carpenter had heard them. They were, in fact, very varied in tone-some mere ticks, others loud slaps or thumps. But to all this he paid no attention. He joked with Miss Nichol, who was always ready for fun, and, after the raps had gone on some time, he remarked, “We know all about these raps. Show us something else. I thought I should see something remarkable." But nothing else came. Then, after a little talk and more chaff with Miss Nichol, he said “Good night;' and though I begged him to appoint a day for the next sitting, he never came again.
I next tried Mr. G. H. Lewes (whose acquaintance I had made at Huxley's), but he was too much occupied and too incredulous to give any time to the inquiry. During this time I was reading almost everything I could obtain upon the phenomena, and found that there was such a mass of testimony by men of the highest character and ability in
every department of human learning, that I thought it would be useful to bring these together in a connected sketch of the whole subject. This I did, and sent it to a secularist magazine, in which it appeared in 1866, and I also had a hundred copies printed separately, which I distributed among my friends. It was called “The Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural," a somewhat misleading title, as in the introductory chapter I argued for all the phenomena, however extraordinary, being really"natural" and involving no alteration whatever in the ordinary laws of nature. Some years later (1874) this was included in my volume on “Miracles and Modern Spiritualism,” with an additional chapter, “ Notes of Personal Evidence."
The letters I received from those to whom I sent copies of this little pamphlet were interesting though not instructive. Huxley wrote: “I am neither shocked nor disposed to issue a Commission of Lunacy against you. It may be all true, for anything I know to the contrary, but really I cannot get up any interest in the subject. I never cared for gossip in my life, and disembodied gossip, such as these worthy ghosts supply their friends with, is not more interesting to me than any other. As for investigating the matter-I have half a dozen investigations of infinitely greater interest to me—to which any spare time I may have will be devoted. I give it up for the same reason I abstain from chess—it's too amusing to be fair work, and too hard work to be amusing."
To the latter part of this letter no objection can be made, but the objection as to "gossip” was quite irrelevant as regards a book which had not one line of "gossip” in it, but was wholly devoted to a summary of the evidence for facts-physical and mental-of a most extraordinary character, given on the testimony of twenty-two well-known men, mathematicians, astronomers, chemists, physiologists, lawyers, clergymen, and authors, many of world-wide reputation.
Tyndall read the book “with deep disappointment," because it contained no record of my own experiments. He knew Baron Reichenbach, and had visited him, and had
seen all his apparatus and his methods. It was he who had reproached Thackeray for allowing the article about "Home" to appear in the Cornhill Magazine, and he added
“Poor Thackeray was staggered and abashed by the earnestness of my remonstrance regarding the lending the authority of his name to 'Stranger than Fiction,' my great respect for Thackeray rendering my remonstrance earnest."
Then he concludes with a gentle admonition to myself
"I see the usual keen powers of your mind displayed in the treatment of this question. But mental power may show itself, whether its material be facts or fictions. It is not lack of logic that I see in your book, but a willingness that I deplore to accept data which are unworthy of your attention. This is frank-is it not?
“Yours very faithfully,
G. H. Lewes, to whom I had sent the little book with an invitation to investigate at my house the phenomena which occurred with my friend Miss Nichol, replied much in the same way as Tyndall—that he was quite ready to examine any serious claim to spiritual power, but that he had “thoroughly examined” the phenomena, “had forced Mrs. Hayden to avow herself an impostor,” while all other mediums he had tested “were either impostors or dupes." Still, he would come to me if he could have “all the conditions of testing the phenomena freely accorded." He “ would not permit a medium to determine the conditions or to open the usual loopholes of escape.” He would also wish to bring Mr. Herbert Spencer, or some other scientific friend with him; and he concluded, “I pledge you my word that I will publicly state, with all the accuracy I can, whatever phenomena I may witness."
I gladly accepted his offer, only stipulating as before that he should not impose conditions on the first occasion, and that he should devote at least six sittings (I think) of an hour each to the investigation before coming to any conclusion. But he never came at all,
Several of my friends about this time urged me strongly to make a personal investigation of the subject. Among these were my old companion, H. W. Bates, and Professor E. B. Tylor. I was doing so at the time, but when I published the results a few years later, and about the same time Sir William Crookes published his much more remarkable investigations, both alike were received with silence, incredulity, or contempt.
Notwithstanding this refusal to accept my offer of a full examination of phenomena which had repeatedly occurred in my presence and had been submitted to varied tests, a year afterwards two of these men of science wrote to the Pall Mall Gazette (May 19, 1868), making various accusations against mediums and spiritualists. Mr. Lewes declared that scientific men are never allowed to investigate, but are put off by an evasion of some kind; and many other things equally untrue. He then suggested that the whole thing could be tested by allowing Professor Tyndall to have one sitting with any medium, and to propose three questions for the spirits to
answer correctly. I thereupon wrote to the editor with a full · reply, pointing out that Mr. Cromwell Varley, the eminent
electrician, had recently published the statement that he had been permitted to investigate fully by Mr. Home, with satisfactory results. I then related a series of test experiments in my own house, and asked Mr. Lewes how his statement that others have discovered how the tables are turned (and can turn them), how the raps are produced (and can produce them), how the ropes are untied (and can untie them), can apply to such phenomena as I relate, and to such tests and conditions as I gave, or what bearing Professor Tyndall's proposed "three questions” could have upon them.
This reply was, however, refused publication by the editor, and I wrote to Mr. Lewes suggesting that, for the sake of his own reputation, he should in future, if he wrote publicly on this subject, do so only in such journals as would admit a reply.
As an example of the strange methods of our opponents at this time, I may refer to Mr. Lewes's statement to me