Tuesday September 24, 2014
If this were held today, do you think it would have been called Ghost Con? Do you think the spirits would have shown up in their favorite cosplay of other historical figures just to confuse the mediums? You know what I hate about articles like this week’s article? I can never find a follow up! You would think a great congress of ghosts proving science wrong without the use of baffoonery or jugglery would have made headlines all over the world and people would still be talking about it today….but noooo I can’t find one article that details the conversations with Socrates, Jeanne d’Arc, Cleopatra, or Mozart. I wanted to hear how the ghosts liked their accommodations all over London, considering they were going to be stacked 30 to a room and find out if science finally accepted paranormal phenomena. Now I will never know and this makes me sad.
Washington Post edition 08/11/1907 pg 1
Great Convention of Ghosts
FAMOUS SCHOLARS WILL CROSS-QUESTION SPOOKS AT GREAT INTERNATIONAL GATHERING OF MEDIUMS
London is preparing for the greatest convention ever held – the first international convention of ghosts, which is being planned to meet at South Institute, one of the great halls of London city, in September.
All the ghosts in the world will be invited to attend and prove to mortals that they exist. The spirits of all departed will be made welcome and invited to materialize during the week.
Londoners are not fleeing as yet from the prospect of entertaining a few billion spooks. There is no use to run, for if every ghost that will be invited attends the International convention there will be 30 or 40 ghosts for every bedroom in Great Britain, and the parks and public places will be filled. Anyone who cannot see a ghost during the second week in September in London will have to be psychically blind, according to the committee chosen by research societies which are arranging the convention.
Seriously, the international convention is to be the greatest effort perhaps ever made to investigate thoroughly and openly the question of existence and possible materialization of spirits.
The leading Spiritualists and mediums from all parts of the world are expected to attend, and each one is to be bring his best ghost with him to show to the convention. Mediums who have “controls” of important spirits, who claim to be able to materialize and commune with the spirits of famous historic characters, will be asked to bring them to London and to develop their “ghosts” for the benefit of science. America, India, China, Australia, Egypt, Africa and all the countries of Europe will be invited to supply their best-known mediums and attempt to demonstrate their theories.
Not since the investigations of Spiritualism by the Seibert commission has science taken such a grave interest in the question of spirts.
Physical research societies all over the world, as well as learned educators and thinkers, are, according to present plans, to participate in the convention, which is expected at least to develop important knowledge of things psychical. No School of Spiritualists will be excluded. The Indian “faker” and the Oxford College professor will be expected to sit side by side with the American Spiritualistic medium and the Tibetan recluse. The spirit doctors from the African jungles will be invited to explain their fetich worship to the deepest thinkers of the Italian, French and German schools of spiritualistic research.
The test, however, is planned to be deeper than this. Not only will spiritualists and students of Spiritualism be invited to attend, but they will be expected to subject their controls to the cross questioning of the most eminent students of the world. Historians, scholars, writers, who have but little or no interest in spiritualism will be invited to attend and examine the spirits to prove their authenticity. Instead of the usual medium’s “fake” of saying “I see a tall blond woman, who asks if John is in the audience,” the spirits will be examined by men who know more about their lives on earth than the mediums do.
For instance, a medium who claims to be able to summon the spirit of Napoleon will be examined by the foremost authorities on the Napoleonic era, and asked questions concerning the Emperor which no one could answer unless deeply versed in the life of Napoleon. The same system, according to the committee, will be used with every historic ghost, a special authority being invited to examine each medium after the same manner.
Among the famous spirts invited to attend, under the chaperonage of their favorite mediums, are the following:
Napoleon, Dickens, Aristophanes, Jeanne d’Arc, Aristotle, Columbus, Mozart, Solomon, David, Brigham Young, Darius, Cromwell, Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Demosthenes, Robert Burns, Washington, Confucius, King Arthur, Dante, Alexander, Martin Luther, Cleopatra, Henry Ward, Socrates, Beecher, Caesar.
The committee which is arranging the international convention of ghosts in order to prove its sincerity in resorting to the great test of their belief in spiritualism, has planned to invite the following authorities to cross question the mediums who claim to control the historic spirits.
David to be examined by William Robertson Smith, editor Encyclopedia Britannica, Librarian Cambridge University, authority on Biblical and Hebrew history.
Aristophanes to be examined by Richard Claverhouse Jebb, Lit., D., LL., D., professor of Greek, University of Glasgow.
Shakespeare to be examined by henry R. Tedder, Librarian Athenaem, London, authority on Shakesperean history and literature, author of works on Shakespear, the man and the author, and Alexander Stewart MacGregor, Scotch Shakesperean authority.
King Arthur to be examined by Rev. David Rowlands, the famous Welsh Scholar and author, special investigator of life and legends of the round table and its knights.
Alexander to be examined by Archibald Henry Sayce, M.A., professor of comparative philology, University of Oxford, and writer on ancient history.
Dante to be examined by Oscar Browning, M.A., fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, lecturer on ancient history, author of “The Life and Works of Dante.”
Peter the Great to be examined by Oscar Browning.
Demosthenes to be examined by Richard Claverhouse Jebb, University of Glasgow.
Darius to be examined by Archibald Henry Sayce, professor of comparative philology, Oxford, author of “Babylonian Literature,” “The Monuments of Hittites,” “Assyrian Grammar,” “Assyarian Translations,” &c.
Aristotle to be examined by Paul Wilhelm Schmeidel, professor of New Testament history, University of Zurich, formerly Universities of Jena and Leipsic; author many historical works.
Mozart to be examined by W.S. Rockstrom, author “Life and Music of Mozart,”
Cleopatra to be examined by Rev. Frederick John Foakes-Jackson, Dean of Jesus College, Cambridge, author of “Biblical History of the Hebrews,” “Christian Difficulties in the Second and Twentieth Centuries,” &c.
Caesar to be examined by Oscar Browning M.A., King’s College, Cambridge.
Jeanne d’Arc to be examined by L. De Boutellier, author of history of her life, &c.
Solomon to be examined by Stanly Lane-Poole, professor of Arabic, Trinity College.
Brigham Young to be examined by Francis Hepwell, author of “History of Mormonism.”
Oliver Cromwell to be examined by Thomas McKinnon Wood, of London, Chairman of the London City Council, one of the editors of Encyclopedia Britannica.
Sir Walter Scott to be examined by Prof. James Brander Matthews, of Columbus Universtiy, author of works on American and British literature.
Robert Burns to be examined by James McNichol, L.L. D., D. D., University of Edinburgh; author of “Life and Character of Robert Burns,” &c.
Socrates to be examined by Prof. Adolph Harnack, D. D>, University of Berlin.
Henry Ward Beecher to be examined by Rev. Isaac Kaufman Funk.
These are not all. The Psychical Association, which has appointed a committee of 15 to make arrangements, is planning to add to the list and included in the invitation all the authorities on any spirit which the mediums claim they can control. The invitation lists to famous spiritualists now being made up by the committee are growing continually and with them the lists of the famous students and writers who will be given the chance to talk or communicate with the spirits of the men whose biographies they have written or whose lives they have studied.
One thing the convention will seek to demonstrate, and this is the wonderful changes in the attitude of science toward spirit phenomena since the days when Kat Fox, the American girl, founded what is known as the modern school of Spiritualism.
Now science, relieved of the danger of being made ridiculous, is interested in the serious investigation of the problems of Spiritualism and perhaps the scientists and deep thinkers of England and Europe at least are as much interested in the proposed international congress of ghosts as are the leaders of spiritualistic movement. For the psychical phenomenon instead of being a commercial asset for fakers who prey upon the superstitious members of the public and work wondrous frauds and deceits has become a serious scientific problem and perhaps half the great psychologists of the world have faith in “seeing ghosts.” They don’t admit it in that form – in fact, they deny the ghosts, but they admit the phenomena and seek explanation.
The committee expects humanity to derive much knowledge from the coming convention that will support the theories of Spiritualists. The committee says with perhaps 2,000 spiritualistic mediums present ready to produce ocular proof of their claims and with a few hundred scientific men and scholars present to test those proofs there will be no chance for trickery or fraud.
The development of Spiritualism since 1848, when Mr. and Mrs. John Fox, of Hydeville, N.Y., first discovered “spirit raping,” has been remarkable, although nothing beyond theories has resulted. Kate Fox, one of the daughters, was the first person to claim to be able to communicate with spirits through the medium of raps, although as early as the seventeenth century German Jews practiced table rocking.
The discovery of Kate Fox that she could obtain replies to knocks upon tables, &c, and that the responses seemed directed by intelligence, resulted in the formation of the modern school of spiritualism. The form of “spirit rapping” spread rapidly through the United States and thence over the entire civilized world. The spirit of the “murdered peddler” which communicated with the Fox family became historic and subsequent mediums developed rapping to an extent which created interest everywhere and resulted in such widespread fraud and deceit that the scientific value of all the discoveries was lost – even if they possessed value.
Kate Fox and her sister both were mediums and claimed to be able to communicate with the spirits of the departed. They had a host of imitators.
No medium, however, in those days or for many years afterward even claimed to understand what special qualities enabled spirits to make use of them.
Andrew Jackson Davis in 1847 startled the world by his work on “Nature’s Divine Revelations,” which he claimed to have received while in a hypnotic trance.
A Mrs. Hayden, a professional medium of Boston, carried the “spirit rapping” to England in 1852, and Europe was seized with a “table turning” mania.
Science accepted certain phenomena as real, but in the maze of fraud and buffoonery and trickery designed to cheat superstitious poor much time and knowledge were lost. Science refused to mingle with the fakers and the fear of ridicule precluded the possibility of any famous scientist devoting his time to the study of spiritualism until within the last decade.
The Siebert commissions on insanity and Spiritualism were pioneering investigations into the field which science hardly dared enter because of the ridicule it brought upon them.
The bequest of Siebert, furnishing funds for such investigations, brought a serious effort. Besides science had proved so much that it became less afraid of ridicule.
The Italian school was one of the first to take the plunge into the waters of mystery, and then it emerged bringing up bits of truth psychologists of France, England and Germany jumped in. Within the last decade it has become almost a fad for scientific men to investigate ghosts. They have shattered thousands of good stories and got many bits of the truth.
Now the scientist the world over accept psychic phenomena as a matter of course and they are delving deeper and deeper. So they are expected by the committee to welcome the international convention of ghosts.
Any ghost in good standing, with dues paid up, is privileged to attend the convention and make himself or herself better known to any one of the spiritualists or scientist who will be in attendance.
Besides the spirits of great historic characters, already mentioned, who are expected through their mediums to accept invitations to attend, there will be many famous ghosts, some of them unknown, or at least unidentified, and some of these the committee hopes, may be identified by the scientists or others during the congress.
Of this class is the famous Rudat spirit, which is one of the best known materializations in the world, at least among spiritualists. This wraith, or whatever it is, has been a mystery to mediums for the last ten years and its peculiarity consists, seemingly in the fact that the best mediums can do nothing with it while it persistently attempts to communicate with members of the Rudat family, living in and near the village of Getroz, in Switzerland, not far from the French frontier. Not one member of the family is a medium as far as they know, and not one understands even the simplest forms of Spiritualism, yet this spirit, so it is asserted, has made scores of attempts to communicate with different members of the family.
Instead of being pleased the Rudats were almost frightened out of their wits. Two members of the family claim to have seen the wraith, which appeared to them as a semi-luminous mist, approximating in form the human shape. Also the spirit, they claim, strove to tell them something, but failed because every member of the family it approached refused to remain to listen.
Spiritualists when they heard of this wonderfully material spirit hastened to the Rudats and expected great things in the line of discovery. The spirit, however, refused to have anything to do with the mediums. Its business apparently is with the Rudats, and no one else will do. However, one of the Rudats will be brought to the convention and efforts made to get the spirit to reveal its business.
Every honest psychical research worker admits that puerile frauds and clever impositions are practiced daily, and that sleight of hand, hypnotism and all sorts of jugglery are used frequently by those who claim to be mediums. Some of the best known spiritualistic mediums in the world will be barred entirely from the convention, because proof exists that they have practiced frauds.
It is a well-known fact that tone firm in Boston manufactures immense quantities of “spirit pictures” and paraphernalia of all sorts for the use of tricksters who seek to make money by deceiving the public. At least one Parisian moving picture firm manufactures extremely clever “ghosts” that can be materialized instantly, even through a small hole at the rear of the room, and produced upon walls or curtains.
The committee knows all these things, and it proposes to bar all fraudulent mediums, accepting only those who seek truth and do not resort to trickery.
Tuesday September 16, 2014
In 1919 Violet Tweedale wrote a book called Ghosts I Have Seen. This article was no doubt written to promote the book. I think my favorite part is about the spirits wanting to have spirits and wouldn’t you just love to know who much money they made from placing the bet with information from the spook?
San Francisco Chronicle 04/25/1920 edition
Some Ghost I have Really Seen
How It Feels When One Spook Invites You to
Have a Drink and Another Tells You
How to Bet On a Horse Race Is Described by a
Dignified Scotchwoman Who Began Seeing
Ghosts When She Was Six Years Old
FOLLOWING the lead of Sir A. Conan Doyle, Sir Oliver Lodge, Maurice Maeterlinck and other famous writers and scientists who have testified to a belief in the occult, Violet Tweedale, the well known Scotch authoress, has just completed a remarkable detailed account of her own personal experiences with ghosts. She began seeing ghosts, she declares when she was 6 years old and since then she has seen a great many more.
Mrs. Tweedale does not look like a person given to foolish imaginings. She is rated an exceedingly sensible woman. Her father, Robert Chambers, of Edinburg, was the owner and editor of Chamber’s Journal, and a good friend of Sir Henry Irving. Sir Henry knew Violet Tweedale, who says that he, too, was profoundly interested in the occult. He once told her that a ghost he had seen had suggested a particular action of his while playing “The Bells.” Mrs. Tweedale has embodied her experiences with ghosts in a book, “Ghosts I Have Seen,” published by Frederick A. Stokes Co., New York
By Grace Epperson
VIOLET TWEEDALE had her initial encounter with ghosts as a child when two very spooky visitors, upon which, later, she and her brother conferred the names “Silk Dress” and “Rumpus,” began raising all kinds of mysterious ructions around the nursery and the children’s bedroom. She doesn’t recollect that anything particularly psychic happened to her before the age of 6 years. But from the moment “Silk Dress” and “Rumpus” made their first appearance, her acquaintance with spooks became large and exceedingly varied.
“It all happened through ‘Silk Dress’ and ‘Rumpus,’” Mrs. Tweedale declares. “From far down on the ground floor, we heard footsteps, quietly and methodically ascending and the rustle of a solid dress. We could hear quite distinctly when ‘it’ arrived at the first floor, which was occupied by our parents, then ‘it’ passed on to the next flight of stairs, leading to our floor.
“The sound of footsteps and the rustle of the dress became more and more audible as ‘it’ drew near. We could tell the second at which ‘it’ passed from the last step on to the corridor, which led past our half-open door. Then here was a thrilling moment or two when the tip-tap of shoes and the swish of silk on the linoleum was quite loud, but the footsteps never halted. They always swept past the half-closed door and went on into a smaller room beyond, used for storing boxes. Then dead silence fell again.
Ghosts That Juggle Furniture
“In the summer mornings we always sat up in bed and intently watched when disturbed by ‘Rumpus.’ When ‘Rumpus’ roused us brusquely from our slumbers it was by means of demoniac pandemonium. The room was in possession of ‘them’ and ‘they’ crashed and banged and tossed the furniture about in the most reckless fashion.
. . . No one else in the house ever heard it and our vivid descriptions were, perhaps, attributed to nightmare. We, of course, knew it was nothing of the sort. Suddenly the tumult would cease. The mystery lay in the fact that we never saw anything moving, though we distinctly heard everything moving and could feel our beds reel beneath us.”
Mrs. Tweedale relates how she and her father went ghost hunting near Broughton Hall, an old Scotch mansion, extremely promising from the ghost hunter point of view. “It was November, dry, but wild and bitterly cold. Billowy whites now clouds, sucking before a brisk north wind threw us alternately into light and darkness, as they covered and uncovered the face of the full moon. We had emerged from our house about half-past 9, and had reached the back of Broughton Hall. The house was shrouded in darkness and dead silence. Every blind was close drawn and the suggestion was one of utter emptiness. My father and I were walking apart, I being right under the shadow of the walls, while he was in the middle of the paved court, which had neither hedge nor walls but met the edge of the field running up to it.
What a Ghost Looks Like
“Suddenly I heard him whisper, ‘Hush!’ thought we never did utter a word while close to the house. His arm was pointing in front of him. I stared ahead, and then I saw, clearly lit by the moon, a woman who had just rounded the corner of the house. She was running hard, straight toward us and her feet made now sound on the rounded cobblestones.
“Terror suddenly seized me and I darted across to my father and got well behind him, seizing him firmly round the waist. The woman came on, rushing wildly. She had nearly reached us, and I was almost thrown over as my father faced her and backed to allow her to pass. I peeped round him and saw a woman, ghastly pale and distraught-looking, clad in a white nightdress. Tow long strands of black hair streamed out behind her, and her bare arms were outstretched in front. In a flash she had passed, and absolutely silently, and a few moments later I found myself lying on the ground alone and my father vanishing in hot pursuit.
“I quickly picked myself up and joined the chase. Terror lent me wings and in a minute or two, I came up with him standing breathless by the gate.
“ ‘ vanished into thin air just as I reached her. That’s always the way, you can’t catch them, he said.’ “
Getting “a tip” on a horse race from a ghost was one of the astonishing experiences of Violet Tweedale. In explaining this she says: “One day I drove by appointment to the house of a neighbor, to meet Miss Catherine Bates, author of ‘Seen and Unseen.’
“Just before I started, my husband, half in fun and knowing Miss Bates to be psychic, said:: ‘Ask her what horse is going to win the Cambridgeshire.’
“It was not until I was seated in the carriage, exchanging a few parting words with the two ladies, that I suddenly recollected my husband’s request. As the horses were starting, I called out to Miss Bates: “ ‘Tell me, what’s going to win the Cambridgeshire.’ “
Getting a Spooky Tip
“The answer was prompt and clear: “ ‘Marco to win ____ for a place’ (I regret that I cannot remember the name of the second horse).
“As I drove away I waved my hand and directly when I got home I told my husband, ‘Marco to win _____ for a place.”
“He was much interested in this ‘tip’ from so well known a psychic, and of course we backed Marco to win.
“The even duly came off and I wrote to Miss Bates thanking her for the good turn she had done me.
“Her reply astounded me.
“She began by saying she had not heard me putting any question to her, and knew none of the horses’ names.
“Her hostess cared nothing for racing and was as ignorant as she was upon the subject, but she did remember hearing me call out to Miss Bates.
“I then questioned our coachman and footman. Both distinctly remembered my calling out the question, and both, keen on racing, listened for the reply, but they heard none.”
Violet Tweedale says she frequently met the ghost of a young woman who always asked her to have a drink. She narrates this strange experience as follows:
A Ghost Opposed to Prohibition
“A year or two after we took a cottage on the Thames and there during our summer visits, I had an uncomfortable experience.
“There was something wrong with the sideboard end of the dining room. For a long time I could not make out what it was. My attention was constantly attracted to the spot. If I passed the door I thought instantly of the sideboard. In plain language I was constantly being invited by some invisible person to come in and have a drink. If I was putting anything away in the sideboard, the suggestion was always very strong.
. . . I always resisted the suggestion, I supposed because I did not happen to want anything to drink – for years I have been a total abstainer – and at the time I certainly did not realize the menace of those suggestions.
“Now and again I caught sight of a small oblong, gray cloud, hovering in front of the sideboard, but it was not until many months afterward, that I saw something much more definite. The gray shadow had become the clearly defined shade of a small woman. She hovered about the spot in a wavering undecided manner. It was apparent that she was seeking something. One day in a flash I recognized the truth, the suggestion came from her. She was inviting me to drink with her.”
That animals also have spirits who “walk,” Mrs. Tweedale believes. She tells of a dead man who returned in the form of a black spaniel and of how living dogs made friends with or exhibited mistrust of a pack of ghost dogs. She says:
“Twice in my life I have seen the wraith of our own dogs, Pompey and Triff. Pompey was a big brindled bulldog of terrifying aspect and angelic nature. My husband and I adored him and his death cause us great grief. Indeed, the whole household mourned him long and deeply. About 10 days after his death, I suddenly caught sight of him walking in front of me down the avenue. On the spur of the moment I called him by name, then he vanished. This dog’s ghost also appeared to the Duchess of Sutherland while she was visiting me.”
The author tells how she can “feel” a haunted room, and be able to tell it by the curious color of its shadows. On one occasion to disprove a doubt that she possessed such power, she walked through many rooms straight to the haunted room in a castle.
Tuesday September 9, 2014
Labor Day weekend is always a huge blast for us because it means we are at Dragon Con! (Yes, I’m a cosplayer – no judging) Along with people watching, we like to attend the paranormal panels to hear things from like minded people. When DC released the schedule this year I was SUPER excited to see there was a panel called “Spirit Mediums of the 19th Century” being presented by a man named Aiden Sinclair. Now..shame on me, I had never heard of Mr. Sinclair, but I was excited nonetheless. We all know that Mediums of the 1800/1900s are one of my interests, and I wanted to see if this guy knew his stuff (forgive me Mr. Sinclair, my sincerest apologies).
Imagine my surprise when his opening topic was the Fox sisters (supposed mid 19th century mediums who were heralded with the claim “the birth of spiritualism”). So guess what? Yep, Shannon got all fan girly on Mr. Sinclair. The level of fan girlism exploded when I realized that Mr. Sinclair was an illusionist as well (again..forgive me Mr. Sinclair). For the next hour I was entranced by his lecture and THEN…..I found out he was performing a show AT DRAGON CON!!
David and I got to see the show Sunday night (and we even got to be part of it, as usual David was the killer..I don’t know why he always gets picked to play that role when we do some kind of show!!) and it was spectacular. I really recommend going to see Mr. Sinclair if he comes to your neck of the woods.
This particular article is one that I have been hanging on to all year. The time just never seemed right to use it as a Timeless Tuesday article, until now. So, Mr. Sinclair, in honor of the fact that you combined two things very dear to me, this is for you
Washington Post edition 10/31/1920
MEDIUM WHO PUZZLED SCIENTIFIC WORLD ADMITS FRAUD
Amazing Revelations by Famous Woman, Who Describes How She Deceived Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Superintendent of Scotland Yard, and a Group of Scientists and Journalists – Reveals the Hitherto Secret Tricks of Ghost Producing, Table Tilting, Spirit Music and Many Other So Called Phenomena
Written by Miss Molly Wynter (The World Famous Medium)
(When Miss Molly Wynter, the medium in the mask, seated with her limbs bound with a strong cord, and her chair sealed to the floor, produced a ghost, all the experts, including Sir A. Conan Doyle and Superintendent Thomas of Scotland Yard, were absolutely puzzled. Yet the whole thing was only a remarkably clever trick. Miss Wynter kept well the secret of how it was done, but now for the first time the makes public the truth of the case, telling exactly how she produced the amazing phenomena attributed by so many to supernatural agency.)
London Oct 14
In writing my confessions I desire to make it perfectly clear that I am not a scoffer at spiritualism. Far from it. For many years I have seriously and sincerely investigated spiritualistic matters, and I admit that there is more in it than I can explain.
But, without egotism, I believe myself capable of reproducing any of the alleged phenomena commonly attributed to spiritual agency, though this does not necessarily prove that the real thing is nonexistent.
Some, indeed, of my friends go so far as to say that the fact of my ability to fake certain effects is definite proof that the same effects can be produced without faking. They argue that it is impossible to imitate something that does not exist, and possibly they are right.
I ventured into spiritualistic limelight just a year ago. Since then I have been a source of considerable worry to believers and sceptics alike. The believers have badgered me to proclaim the genuineness of my gifts from the housetops, and others have begged me to assert that spiritualism is all a fraud because I am one myself.
Things came to a climax in a recent law case when Mr. J. B. Mathews, K.C. asked Mr. Justice Darling to convict me under the statute of George IV as a rogue and vagabond. But of that, more anon.
Offers to Produce Ghost
The cause of my burst into fame must be laid to my claim to produce a genuine ghost. To tell the truth, I accepted this offer without knowing that I had done so.
Much to my astonishment, a friend rang me up, with the unusual request that I should forthwith materialize a ghost that should be in every way above suspicion, failing which I should be regarded as an outcast, and never again allowed to cross the threshold of his office. This, of course, was in fun. The friend happened to be Mr. OP T. Selbit, an important theatrical impresario, and the state being my means of livelihood, and Mr. Slebit my agent, I merely replied, “Right you are, old thing! Make it a couple of ghosts, so long as it doesn’t hurt.”
Later in the day Mr. Selbit phoned me to meet him. All the instructions I received were that I was to wear a heavy veil and say nothing. I kept the appointment.
Our offer had electrified the country. We were simply besieged by pressmen, for theatrical impresarios have a way of doing things beyond the ken even of spirit mediums. What Mr. Selbit told the public about me I do not know, but whatever it was it had the effect of making the reporters sit up and take notice.
Fears Task is Too Great
Mr. Selbit introduced me as Miss Smith. That took me by surprise somewhat, but when I listened to my agent calmly agreeing that I should produce a ghost in a locked and sealed room, in the presence of a committee of scientific investigators and a representative from Scotland Yard, I really thought my friend had gone raving mad. I tried to catch his eye, but it refused to be caught. Afterward, Mr. Selbit told me he dared not look at me, in case we should both laugh.
The interview lasted half an hour, and I barely spoke a dozen words. My photograph was taken and the next morning my picture was blazoned forth as “the Medium in the Mask.” And that is how I became a professional medium.
When we left Fleet street my agent said, “Now we will have some lunch and talk this thing over.” Bythis time I was in a fairly mild state of hysterics.
“You’ve just about ruined my reputation as a woman illusionist forever,” I blurted out, “
and all you can offer me is some lunch.”
“My dear girl,” reputed Mr. Selbit, “if you do this thing, it will be the biggest illusion ever done, and your fortune will be made.”
“If you will tell me how to do it, I agree,” I retorted.
Prepared to Make Good
“I haven’t the ghost of an idea.” Answered my agent, “but there must be some way, and we are not going to let it bother us until we’ve lunched.”
A week later we gave a private séance to the press, and I produced my first ghost. And a few days after that I gave a proper test séance to the committee appointed to investigate my supposed supernormal powers.
In fairness to Mr. Selbit and myself, I want it to be understood that neither of us on any occasion claimed anything more for our performance that that it was given for the purpose of being investigated. Also, it should be mentioned that we both declined to accept any money at all from any one, merely because we knew that if we did so it would be tantamount to claiming that our ghost was a genuine visitor from another world.
Before I tell you how we produced the ghost that puzzled the scientists it might be interesting to quote a short description of my first big séance, from the pen of a London journalist:
THE GHOST APPEARS
The pianist played romantic music. Then came some sound as of heavy breathing; then silence. At last the ghost began to walk. It came as a kind of pillar or wide strip of thin vapor – as thin and impalpable as a breath of mist vanishing into the blue of a summer sky. It originated at the right side of the medium and was about as tall as the medium when standing.
“It was off the floor, and, still upright, it slowly passed across the darkness until it reached the wall. Then it moved back, but gradually became smaller as it neared the floor, and so dwindled and vanished.”
Conan Doyle is Present
That is a plain and unvarnished description of the effect of my ghost. The phenomenon was witnessed by an interesting assortment of people. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as tall and hefty and blue-eyed as a royal Irish constabularyman; Mr. Gow, the editor of the spiritualistic paper, Light; Dr. Wynn Westcott, the sliver-haired coroner; Lady Glenconner, a grande dame of gracious aspect and manner; Superintendent Thomas, C.L.D., steadily observant and quizzical, as becoming one of the heads of Scotland Yard; Sir Henry Lunn, portly, smiling, and business-like; Dr. Edwin Smith, with the serious manner of the scientific student of research; Mr. Stuart Cumberland, the famous unraveler of all spiritualistic frauds, and many others.
Several committee believed that I had produced a genuine ghost, and were not afraid to say so in print. The remainder were skeptical, but could not explain the nature of the thing they had seen, and yet anyone who reads this confession can “materialize” exactly the same effect with very little trouble or expense.
And now for the first time I intend to tell exactly what Mr. Selbit and I arranged to do to humbug the scientists and make the whole world who read the account of the famous séance believe that a little woman in a Bloomsbury apartment had at last established connection between this world and another, and submitted convincing proof that the veil had indeed been pierced.
Pleasant to Hold Hands
The first essential was a dim, religious light, and a short period of waiting expectancy. I have always found that sitters do not object to waiting for materialization. In fact, many regard it a pleasant hobby to sit in the dark holding hands with nice people. Sitting round the fire in a dark room in the evening brings a creepy feeling, particularly if one is talking about ghosts. The nerves become strained. The mind is in a state ready to regard anything that happens in the nature of abnormal things.
The most effective ghost of all times is the white sheet and a graveyard, and this was the basis on which we worked to puzzle the scientist. Our ghost was clothed in a piece of filmy gauze, and was in all readiness outside the room. How to smuggle her into a séance chamber with a real Scotland Yard man, keen, observant scientists, alert newspaper men, and would-be exposers, was the question.
The room was a small one, with a door in the center, so that it will be seen that our task was not a small one. The slightest hitch and all our plans would have tumbled to the ground like a pack of cards. But we were not nervous. Far from it. We were prepared for failure, and had something else up our sleeves if we required it.
Curtain Plays a Part
The faces of the experts were a study. We separated the room into two compartments. It was the first closely examined in order to prove the absence of any adventitious aids to deception. In order to render the ghost clearly visible to everybody. I suggested that a dark curtain should be hung around the wall at one end of the room, to form a kind of stage. This was done by the committee. The audience was then asked to sit at one end of the room and watch.
Mr. Selbit conducted these preliminaries with utmost solemnity, but inwardly was bubbling over with mirth. In the meantime I was outside, trembling with excitement. I wore a white frock and a heavy veil, the latter to add a little piquancy to the mystery and create additional interest in my personality. Now came the crucial moment. Through the door I heard Mr. Selbit say, “If you are satisfied with the conditions, I should like to introduce you to the medium.” Whereupon he opened the door, which opened directly from the passage into the séance room, and I entered.
I looked at the audience, and they looked at me. I really believe they felt more uncomfortable than I did. Some of the sitters seemed inclined to respond to my bow, but the majority regarded me with a quizzical air that seemed to say, “We know you are a fraud, but we are not going to let you fool us.”
No Chance of Deception
Mr. Selbit handed me a chair, and I sat down. He then suggested that the committee might wish to tie me in such a position that I could not myself masquerade as the ghost. This invitation was responded to with alacrity by the representative from Scotland Yard. This did not worry me in the least, as I had no intention whatever of being the ghost. The Yard man tied and sealed my thumbs together, which was a very excellent precaution, but he also sealed the legs of the chair upon which I was sitting to the floor, and this rather upset our calculations, because I had decided in the course of the performance to float around the room.
Up to this moment the ghost was outside the door; to get her into the room necessitated one of the coolest bits of bluff on record. Mr. Selbit called attention to what had taken place. The windows, he remarked, had been sealed, curtains had been hung round the walls, the medium had been tied up so that he could not possibly move without being detected, and there only remained two possibilities of introducing the fraudulent ghost – either that I must act the part, or that the ghost come in by this door.
Thereupon he partly opened the door, to illustrate his meaning. He had carefully marked the carpet so that he put his fright foot in such a position that the door would only open about 9 inches. His body covered the edge of the door, and acted as a sufficient mask for the ghost to squeeze through this small aperture and creep behind the dark curtains that were hanging against the wall. Continuing his action, Mr. Selbit closed the door and said, “I invite you to seal this up in order to close the only remaining means of ingress.”
Door Also Is Sealed
The door was then sealed with stamp paper, which the innocent scientific investigators decided that they had better sign with their names, to make things double sure. If we had immediately produced the ghost it is probably that Mr. Selbit’s business with the door would have been suspected; but for more than half an hour we kept our audience interested with other manifestations.
Meanwhile the ghost ensconced herself in the corner of the room, behind the curtains, and waited for her cue.
The psychological moment was now approaching; the guests were worked up to the highest pitch of expectancy, and I developed a violent fit of coughing and groaned in most approved mediumistic fashion. This is regarded as a sign that some unusual manifestation is about occur. I called for lights to be lowered, and Mr. Selbit, as a last precaution, suggested that some of the committee might take charge of his body, in order to prove that he rendered no assistance. Sir Henry Lunn and Mr. Stuard Cumberland entered as custodians.
Violets Tossed Into Gathering
We waited for a few moments until the audience’s eyes became accustomed to the dark; meanwhile the ghost crept from her place of concealment and hid herself behind my chair. Then some of the committee whispered that their faces had been flicked with curious substances. One devout believer audibly remarked, “Thank you, my friend,” which is the expected formula of recognition that he had received a manifestation. What really happened was that the ghost, from behind my chair, was throwing freshly dampened violets into the darkened space before me. Some of the flowers found their billet on the faces of our scientific investigators.
From behind my shoulder there now developed a dim, pale light. This was the head of the ghost, slowly rising from behind my chair. The gauze had been coated with what is known as “the medium’s friend” – Belmain phospherine paint. It had been exposed outside to a powerful lamp, and in the darkness of the séance room threw out an earthly iridescence that glowed and quivered and seemed to be a moving mass of unearthly light. Inch by inch the ghost raised herself to her full height, and only the gauze veil that covered her body was visible. With carefully rehearsed hesitancy she extended her arms, which caused the veil to drop in new folds and change its whole “expression.”
Shuffles Her Feet in Moving
Most of the audience recognized in this innocent veil many different forms and features – an old woman in a shawl vying with a new-born babe for chief honors. The ghost shuffled her feet slowly across the floor. If she had walked in the ordinary way the human movement might have been detected. She put her heels and toes together, lifted herself on her heels, and whirled both feet simultaneously to the right. In this way she approached the wall.
As her extended arm touched the curtain she continued her movements, allowing her harm to crumple up against her body, as if she were dematerializing through the wall. Then she sank quietly to her knees, and moved back toward my chair at this altered attitude. She herself passed behind my chair, but lifted the veil from her body, and carried it across my lap. This gave the effect of the floating spirit passing through my body.
Now the ghost approached the other wall, gradually raising upward, and on reaching the wall stood on tiptoe and held the veil in her upraised hand, so that it nearly reached the ceiling. It was now the ghost’s duty to dematerialize and this business had been rehearsed for many hours to get it perfect. Gradually she dropped the veil to the floor, crumpling it up so that the lower it dropped the smaller it became. At least it was no more than a veil of flimsy material held in the ghost’s fingers and she slowly thrust this into a pocket in her dress, turned her back to the audience, and became invisible in the darkness.
Chair is Tipped Up
It was now time for me to levitate myself, or float through the air. For this purpose the ghost came to the back of the chair upon which I was sitting. We had not prepared for Superintendent Thomas’ sealing of the chair to the floor, and we were both rather worried as to how to proceed, and Mr. Selbit from his position at the back of the room could not volunteer any suggestions. Therefore I decided to take the change and fight, anyway.
I am no lightweight, but the illusion of floating is a fairly easy thing to imitate. I was wearing particularly vivid white stockings and shoes. Owing to the audience now having become accustomed to the darkness, my shoes and stockings, as we had found by experiment, would be sufficiently discernible for the purpose of the illusion. The ghost tipped my chair slowly upward, then turned it on one leg to the left and tipped it up until it stood at right angles to the floor. Mr. Selbit, in a stage whisper, informing those of the committee near him that it seemed as through the medium was moving.
This suggestion had its desired effect, one of the newspaper men literally shouting in his excitement, “Look, she’s floating!” and then the ghost ambled the chair on its two back legs across to the opposite side of the room, where she left me to my fate and hid herself again behind the curtains. I now developed another fit of weird noises and then called for lights. Someone switched the electric lamps on, and the audience was for a time almost blinded by the altered conditions. Mr. Selbit now took charge of the proceedings. “Before any one moves, “he said, “let us compare notes and see if we agreed on what has taken place. The windows are still sealed, the curtains are still intact and the door is still sealed. Will the persons responsible for these preparations please say if they are quite satisfied with them?”
Ghost Broke the Seals
The gentleman who had sealed the door first verified their signatures on the stamp paper. To break the seals, Mr. Selbit again opened the door a few inches and said, “Perhaps you had better search the curtains.” For this purpose he pulled open the curtain nearest the door, thus allowing the ghost to escape, the door being closed immediately after her, and then the curtain pulled farther open to admit the burly frame of a well-known newspaper man. This time the ghost made her escape in the full glare of electric light – not a bad achievement.
All conditions to prevent trickery were stated to have been satisfactorily carried out, with the exception that the seals on the chair legs had perforce been broken. A somewhat heated argument ensued as to whether this was attributable to spirit force or to my violent exertions, and believers eventually seemed to persuade the rest of the audience that the spirits had done an excellent thing in exerting sufficient strength to destroy the Scotland Yard seal.
This was my first big achievement, and I do not think I did badly. Before this I had conducted several séances, sometimes to amuse my friends, at other times to create interest in some new illusions that Mr. Selbit and I were about to exploit.
(In the next chapter Miss Wynter tells about table-moving and rapping and makes further startling revelations) ******* Note from Shannon, I will have to find the next published article on this