INVISIBLE I now come to note a fact more still, if, indeed, there are degrees of strangeness connected with this class of occurrences, all of which are over the border-line of the common. Years ago I was told of musical instruments having been played on without the con tact of any visible fingers. I looked upon all such reports with the same kind of in credulity that is natural on the part of a person who has had no similar experience. I was somewhat shaken in my conviction that these things were impossible when I read the volume of Sir William Crookes. In this little book, the famous scientist details at length, and with illustrations, his experiments with Home. He devised mechanical contrivances so that he might test the question as to whether there was any force manifested in the presence of Home that could not be accounted for in the light of any generally accepted theory. Mechanical instruments are not liable to emotional extravagances; and so I felt that Crookes's statements were not easily to be contravened by one who knew no thing about the matter. He told of an accordeon being played on under con ditions which necessitated some other explanation than that of its being man ipulated by visible human hands. Not a great while after reading this book, I had an opportunity to witness a similar phe nomenon. A common accordeon was held in the air by one hand, that hand clasping the side of the instrument oppos ite to that to which the keys were at tached, and thus suspended in the air, long tunes were played upon the instru ment. It was pulled out and pushed in as when handled by an ordinary player; but there was no visible hand touching the keys. All this was in broad daylight in a large open room at ten o'clock in the morning.
I now pass to a class of facts which are generally treated under the head of"mediumistic phenomena,"and which it is claimed by many involve communica tions from invisible intelligences. The physical manifestations to which I have been referring are generally spoken of as belonging to a lower order than those that are not included under this term. I con fess I have never been quite able to see the importance of the distinction, because the physical phenomena which I have wit nessed have always been accompanied by, and under the direction of the most clearly manifested intelligence. That, however, only by the way.
These communications known as"me diumistic phenomena"come in various ways. Sometimes it is through the use of raps. Again it is by lifting, tilting, or in various ways the moving of tables, - perhaps the lifting of one leg and rapping it upon the floor. These movements are always in accord with some previously arranged method. Sometimes they come through what are called inspirational ut terances. Again they are by means of automatic writing, and the psychic, at the time the writing is going on, may be in his or her normal condition, or partially or completely in a trance. I have seen the writing a good many times when there was nothing abnormal visible save that the hand was seized and apparently used as an instrument for the writing, without any conscious will on the part of the agent. While this writing is going on, the psychic may be engaged in conversa tion on some indifferent topic. This is
done at times on purpose to divert the conscious intelligence from what is going on. In the case of the late Stainton Moses, the hand would be writing while the owner of the hand was engaged in the task of reading Plato in the original Greek, on purpose to separate as widely as pos sible his own mental activities from the work in which his hand was engaged. Sometimes, though not generally, so far as my own experience is concerned, the handwriting resembles that of the claimed communicator. Most commonly, how ever, it does not, and this would be the more likely even though one accepted the spiritistic theory as to what was going on; for if any person in the flesh should take hold of the hand of another and try to write with it, the chances are that there would be quite a marked divergence from his ordinary chirography. One peculiarity of this writing, as manifested in some in stances at least, is worthy of note. I have seen cases where, when the communicator claimed to be a man, the writing would be the.large, dashing business hand, though the agent at the time was a wo man. Again, at the same sitting, when some elderly lady claimed to be the in visible agent at work, the penmanship would be set down slowly and with diffi culty and in a fine, lady-like hand. Then there is the writing by means of plan chette. There are the messages spelled out by means of the Ouija board. Be sides these methods there is perhaps the most common one of the psychic speaking while in a trance. This, some years ago, was the ordinary method of Mrs. Piper. In later years, however, the work has been done by the hand in writing, while she has been in a dead trance. In one or two cases, at least (I am not quite sure as to how many), both of Mrs. Piper's hands have been influenced at the same time, and apparently by two different and very distinct intelligences.
Another phase of this alleged commun ication is by the method of slate-writing. I have made a careful study of this matter, have caught a good many tricksters at their work, am perfectly aware that there are several methods which might deceive the unwary but which are wholly fraud ulent. I could myself give a successful slate-writing sitting to a person unfamiliar with these matters. In spite of all this, however, I have received slate-writing communications which were perfectly in telligible and relevant to the matters in hand, where the tricks, if tricks they were, were such as I have been utterly unable to discover. Indeed, on one oc casion, in the presence of a psychic sitting at the same table with me, I got a mes sage on my own slate while holding it in my own hand, and without its having been touched by the psychic, and without his having his hand anywhere near it while the alleged writing was going on. I make no special claim for this, because I am aware of the difficulties connected with this method, and do not claim to have exhausted all the resources of sleight-of hand as they might bear upon the matter.