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the first impression on hearing a few taps only is, that some one is making them with their feet. To set this doubt at rest, we have on several occasions all knelt down round the table, and yet the taps have continued, and have not only been heard as if on the leaf of the table, but have been felt vibrating through it. Another view is, that the sounds are produced by the slipping of tendons or the cracking of joints in some parts of the medium's body; and this explanation is, I believe, the one most commonly accepted by scientific men. But surely, if this be so, some one case can be brought forward in which a person's bones or tendons can make sounds like tapping, rapping, thumping, slapping, scratching, and rubbing, and can repeat some of these so rapidly as to follow every tap of an observer's fingers, or to keep time to music; and further, that all these sounds shall appear to every one present not to come from the individual's body, but from the table at which he is sitting, and which shall often vibrate when the sounds are heard.
Until such a case is produced I must be excused for marvelling at the credulity of those who accept so absurd and inadequate an explanation.
A still more remarkable phenomenon, and one which I have observed with the greatest care and the most profound interest, is the exhibition of considerable force under conditions which preclude the muscular action of any of the party. We stand round a small work-table, whose leaf is about twenty inches across, placing our hands all close together near the centre. After a short time the table rocks about from side to side, and then, appearing to steady itself, rises vertically from six inches to a foot, and remains suspended often fifteen or twenty seconds. During this time any one or two of the party can strike it or press on it, as it resists a very considerable force. Of course, the first impression is that some one's foot is lifting up the table. To answer this ob
jection I prepared the table before our second trial without telling any one, by stretching some thin tissue paper between the feet an inch or two from the bottom of the pillar, in such a manner that any attempt to insert the foot must crush and tear the paper. The table rose up as before, resisted pressure downwards, as if it was resting on the back of some animal, sunk to the floor, and in a short time rose again, and then dropped suddenly down. I now with some anxiety turned up the table, and, to the surprise of all present, showed them the delicate tissue stretched across altogether uninjured! Finding that this test was troublesome as the paper or threads had to be renewed every time, and were liable to be broken accidentally before the experiment began, I constructed a cylinder of hoops and laths, covered with canvas. The table was placed within this as in a well, and, as it was about eighteen inches high, it effectually kept feet and ladies' dresses from the table. This apparatus in no way checked its upward motion, and as the hands of the medium are always close under the eyes of all present, and simply resting on the top of the table, it would appear that there is some new and unknown power here at work. These experiments have been many times repeated by me, and I am satisfied of the correctness of my statement of the facts.
On two or three occasions only, when the conditions appear to have been unusually favourable, I have witnessed a still more marvellous phenomenon. While sitting at the large table in our usual manner, I placed the small table about four feet from it, on the side next the medium and my sister. After some time, while we were talking, we heard a slight sound from the table, and looking towards it found that it moved slightly at short intervals, and after a little time it moved suddenly up to the table by the side of the medium, as if it had gradually got within the sphere of a strong attractive force. Afterwards, at our request, it was thrown down on the floor without any person touching it, and it then moved about in a strange life-like manner, as if seeking some means of getting up again, turning its claws first on one side and then on the other. On another occasion a very large leather arm-chair which stood at least four or five feet from the medium, suddenly wheeled up to her after a few slight preliminary movements. It is, of course, easy to say that what I relate is impossible. I maintain that it is accurately true: and that no man, whatever be his attainments, has such an exhaustive knowledge of the powers of nature as to justify him in using the word impossible with regard to facts which I and many others have repeatedly witnessed.
On Wednesday evening, February 27, 1867, some very remarkable phenomena occurred. The parties present were, my sister, and Miss Nichol (now Mrs. Guppy), her father, Mr. H. T. Humphreys, and two young friends of mine, Mr. and Miss M. My wife and her sister also sat in the room at some distance from the table looking on. There was no fire, and we lowered the gas so as to give a subdued light, which enabled everything to be seen. The moment we were all in our places taps were heard indicating that the conditions were favourable. We now sent for a single wineglass which was placed on the floor between Miss Nichol and her father, and we requested it might be struck. After a short time it was gently tapped producing a clear ringing sound. This soon changed to a sound as if two glasses were gently struck together; and now we were all astonished by hearing in succession almost every possible sound that could be produced by two glasses one inside the other, even to the clang of one dropped into another. They were in every respect identical with such sounds as we could produce with two glasses and with two only, manipulated in a variety of ways, and yet I was quite sure that only one wineglass was in the room, and every person's hands were distinctly visible on the table.
We now took up the glass again and put it on the table, where it was held by both Miss N. and Mr. Humphreys, so as to prevent any vibration it might produce. After a short interval of silence an exquisitely delicate sound as of tapping a glass was heard, which increased to clear silvery notes like the tinkling of a glass bell. These continued in varying degrees for some minutes, and then became fainter and gradually died away. We afterwards placed a rude bamboo harp from the Malay Archipelago under the table, and, after several alterations of position, the strings were twanged as clearly and loudly as any of us could do it with our fingers. Having had such success with the glass we asked if the harp could also be imitated, and having received permission to try, placed it also on the table. After a little time faint vibrating taps were heard, and these soon changed into very faint twangs which formed a distinct imitation of the harp strings, although by no means so successfully as in the case of the wineglass.
We were informed by taps in the ordinary way that it was through the peculiar influence of Mr. Nichol that this extraordinary production of imitative musical sounds without any material object was effected. I may add that the imitation of the sound produced by two glasses was so perfect that some of the party turned up the table immediately after we left it, under the impression that the unseen power had brought in a second glass, but none could be found.
It has been objected that we too often use the expression that the phenomena we witness "could not possibly have been produced by any of the persons present.” I maintain that in this instance they could not, and I shall continue
in that conviction until they are produced under similar conditions and the modus operandi explained.
I have since witnessed a great variety of phenomena, some of which are alluded to in other parts of this volume: but I attach most importance to those which I have carefully and repeatedly tested, and which give me a solid basis of fact by which to judge of what others relate or of what I have myself seen under less favourable conditions.