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The Spiritualist Bogus Baby

Other "spiritual" facts have come to my hand, some of them furnishing

additional details about persons to whom I have already alluded, and

others being important to illustrate some general tendencies of


And first, about the Davenport Brothers; they have met with another

"awful exposure," at the hands of a merciless Mr. Addison. This

gentleman is a London stockbroker, and his cool, sharp business habits

seem to have stood him in good stead in taking some fun out of the fools

who follow the Davenports. Mr. Addison, it seems, went to work, and,

just to amuse his friends, executed all the Davenport tricks. Upon this

the spiritualist newspapers in England, which, like the Boston Herald of

Progress, claim to believe in the "Brothers," came out and said that

Addison was a very wonderful medium indeed. On this the cold-blooded

Addison at once printed a letter, in which he not only said he had done

all their tricks without spiritual aid, but he moreover explained

exactly how he caught the Davenports in their impositions. He and a

long-legged friend went to one of the "dark seances" of the Davenports,

during which musical instruments were to fly about over the heads of the

audience, bang their pates, thrum, twang, etc. Addison and his friend

took a front seat; as soon as the lights were put out they put out their

legs too; stretching as far as possible; and, to use the unfeeling

language of Mr. Addison, they "soon had the satisfaction of feeling some

one falling over them." They then caught hold of an arm, from which a

guitar was forthwith let drop on the floor. In order to be certain who

the guitar-carrier was, they waited until the next time the lights were

put out, took each a mouthful of dry flour, and blew it out right among

the "manifestations." When the lamps were lighted, lo and behold! there

was Fay, the agent and manager of the Davenports, with his back all

powdered with flour. Addison showed this to an acquaintance, who said,

"Yes, he saw the flour; but he could not understand what made Addison

and his friend laugh so excessively at it."

The spiritualist newspapers don't think Addison is so great a medium as

they did!

Great accounts have recently come eastward from Chicago, of a certain

Doctor Newton, who is said to be working miracles by the hundred in the

way of healing diseases. This man operates with exactly the weapons all

the miracle-workers, quacks, and impostors, ancient and modern use. All

of them have appealed to the imaginations of their patients, and no

person acquainted with mental philosophy is ignorant that many a sick

man has been cured either by medicine and imagination together, or by

imagination alone. Therefore, even if this Newton should really be the

cause of the recovery of some persons from their ailments, it would be

no more a miracle than if Dr. Mott should do it; nor would Newton be any

the less a quack and a humbug.

Newton has operated at the East already. He had a career at New Haven

and Hartford, and in other places, before he steered westward in the

wake of the "Star of Empire." What he does is simply to ask what is the

matter, and where it hurts. Then he sticks his thumb into the seat of

the difficulty, or he pokes or strokes or pats it, as the case may be.

Then he says, "There--you're cured! God bless you!--Take yourself off!"

Chicago must be a credulous place, for we are informed of immense crowds

besieging this man, and undergoing his manipulations. One of the Chicago

papers, having little faith and a good deal of fun--which in such cases

is much better--published some burlesque stories and certificates about

"Doctor" Newton, some of them humorous enough. There is a certificate

from a woman with fourteen children, all having the measles at once. She

says that no sooner had Doctor Newton received one lock of hair of one

of them, than the measles left them all, and she now has said measles

corked up in a bottle! Another case was that of a merchant who had lost

his strength, but went and was stroked by Newton, and the very next day

was able to lift a note in bank, which had before been altogether too

heavy for him. There was also an old lady, whose story I fear was

imitated from Hood's funny conceit of the deaf woman who bought an

ear-trumpet, which was so effective that

----"The very next day

She heard from her husband in Botany Bay!"

The Chicago old lady in like manner, after having had Doctor Newton's

thumbs "jobbed" into her ears, certifies that she heard next morning

from her son in California.

One would think that this ridicule would put the learned Dr. Newton to

flight; but it will not until he is through with the fools.

I have already given an account of some of the messages from the other

world in the "Banner of Light," in which some of the spirits explain

that they have turned into women since they died. This is by no means

the first remarkable trick that the spirits have performed upon the

human organization. Here is what they did at High Rock, in

Massachusetts, a number of years ago. It beats Joanna Southcott in funny

absurdity, if not in blasphemy.

At High Rock, in the year 1854 or thereabouts, certain spiritualist

people were building some mysterious machinery. While this was in

process of erection, a female medium, of considerable eminence in those

parts, was informed by certain spirits, with great solemnity and pomp,

that "she would become the Mary of a new dispensation;" that is, she was

going to be a mother. Well, this was all proper, no doubt, and the lady

herself--so say the spiritualist accounts--had for some time experienced

indications that she was pregnant. These indications continued, and

became increasingly obvious, and also, it was observed, a little queer

in some particulars.

After a while, one Spear--a "Reverend Mr. Spear"--who was mixed up, it

appears, with the machinery-part of the business, and who was a medium

himself, transmitted to the lady a request from the spirits that she

would visit said Spear at High Rock on a certain day. She did so, of

course; and while there was unexpectedly taken with the pains of

childbirth, which the spiritualist authorities say, were

"internal"--where should they be, pray?--and "of the spirit rather than

of the physical nature; but were, nevertheless, quite as uncontrollable

as those of the latter, and not less severe." The labor proceeded. It

lasted two hours. As it went on, lo and behold! one part and another

part of the machinery began to move! And when, at the end of the two

hours, the parturition was safely over, all the machinery was going!

The lady had given birth to a Motive Force. Does anybody suppose I am

manufacturing this story? Not a bit of it. It is all told at length in a

book published by a spiritualist; and probably a good many of my readers

will remember about it.

Well, the baby had to be nursed--fact! This superhumanly silly female

actually went through the motions of nursing the motive force for some

weeks. Though how the thing sucked--Excuse me, ladies; I would not

discuss such delicate subjects did not the interests of truth require


If I had been the physician, at any rate, I think I should have

recommended to hire a healthy female steam-engine for a wet nurse to

this young motive force; say a locomotive, for instance. I feel sure the

thing would have lived if it could have had a gauge-faucet or something

of that sort to draw on. But the medical folks in charge chose to permit

the mother to nurse the child, and she not being able to supply proper

nutriment, the poor little innocent faded--if that word be appropriate

for what couldn't be seen,--and finally "gin eout;" and the machinery,

after some abortive joggles and turns, stood hopelessly still.

This story is true--that is, it is true that the story was told, the

pretences were gone through, and the birth was actually believed by a

good many people. Some of them were prodigiously enthusiastic about it,

and called the invisible brat the New Motive Power, the Physical Savior,

Heaven's Last Best Gift to Man, the New Creation, the Great Spiritual

Revelation of the Age, the Philosopher's Stone, the Act of all Acts, and

so on, and so forth.

The great question of all was, Who was the daddy? I don't know of

anybody's asking this question, but its importance is extreme and

obvious. For if things like this are going to happen, the ladies will be

afraid to sleep alone in the house if so much as a sewing-machine or

apple-corer be about, and will not dare take solitary walks along any

stream where there is a water power.

A couple of miscellaneous anecdotes may not inappropriately be appended

to this story of monstrous delusion.

Once a "writing medium" was producing sentences in various foreign

languages. One of these was Arabic. An enthusiastic youth, a

half-believer, after inspecting the wondrous scroll, handed it to his

seat-mate, a professor (as it happened) in one of our oldest colleges,

and a man of real learning. The professor scrutinized the document. What

was the youth's delight to hear him at last observe gravely, "It is a

kind of Arabic, sure enough!"

"What kind?" asked the young man with intense interest.

"Gum-arabic," said the professor.

The spirit of the prophet Daniel came one night into the apartment of a

medium named Fowler, and right before his eyes, he said, wrote down some

marks on a piece of paper. These were shown to the Reverend George Bush,

Professor of Hebrew in the New-York University, who said that they were

"a few verses from the last chapter of Daniel" and were learnedly

written. Bush was a spiritualist as well as a professor of Hebrew, and

he ought to have known better than to indorse spirit-Hebrew; for shortly

there came others, who, to use a rustic phrase, "took the rag off the

Bush." These inconvenient personages were three or four persons of

learning: one a Jew, who proved that the document was an attempt to copy

the verses in question, by some one so ignorant of Hebrew as not to know

that it is written backward, that is, from right to left.

During the last few months, a "boy medium," by the name of Henry B.

Allen, thirteen years of age, has been astonishing people in various

parts of the country by "Physical Manifestations in the Light." The

exhibitions of this precocious youngster have been "managed" by a Dr.

Randall, who also lectures upon Spiritualism, expounding its "beautiful

philosophy." For a number of weeks this couple held forth in Boston,

sometimes giving several seances during the day, not more than thirty

being allowed to attend at one time, each of whom were required to pay

an admission fee of one dollar.

"The Banner of Light" fully indorsed this Allen boy, and gave lengthy

accounts of his manifestations. The arrangements for his exhibition were

very simple. A dulcimer, guitar, bell, and small drum being placed on a

sofa or several chairs set against the wall, a clothes-horse was set in

front of them and covered with a blanket, which came to the floor. To

obtain "manifestations," a person was required to take off his coat and

sit with his back to the clothes-horse. The medium then took a seat

close to, and facing the investigator's left side, and grasped the left

arm of the latter on the under side, above the elbow, with his (the

medium's) right hand and near the wrist with the other hand. The

"manager" then covered with a coat, the arms and left shoulder of the

medium including the left arm of the investigator. The medium soon

commenced to wriggle and twist--the "manager" said he was always nervous

under "influence"--and worked the coat away from the position in which

it had been placed. Taking his right hand from the investigator's arm,

he readjusted the coat, and availed himself of that opportunity to get

the investigator's wrist between his (the medium's) left arm and knee.

That brought his left hand in such a position that with it he could

grasp the investigator's arm where he had previously grasped it with his

right hand. With the latter he could then reach around the edge of the

clothes-horse and make a noise on the instruments. With the drumsticks

he thumped on the dulcimer. Taking the guitar by the neck, he could

vibrate the strings and show the body of the instrument above the

clothes-horse, without any one seeing his hand! All persons present were

so seated that they could not see behind the clothes-horse, or have a

view of the medium's right shoulder. When asked why people were not

allowed to occupy such a position, that they could have a fair view of

the instruments when sounded, the "manager" replied that he did not

exactly know, but presumed it was because the magnetic emanations from

the eyes of the beholders would prevent the spirits being able to move

the instruments at all! What was claimed to be a spirit-hand was often

shown above the clothes-horse, where it flickered for an instant and was

withdrawn; but it was invariably a right hand with the wrist toward the

medium. When the person sitting with the medium was asked if the hands

of the latter had constantly hold of his arm, he replied in the

affirmative. Of course, he felt what he supposed to be both the medium's

hands; but as I before explained, the pressure on his wrist was from the

medium's left arm--the left hand of whom, by means of a very

accommodating crook in the elbow, was grasping the investigator's arm

where the medium's right hand was supposed to be.

From Boston the Allen boy went to Portland, Maine, where he succeeded

"astonishingly," till some gentleman applied the lampblack test to his

assumed mediumship, whereupon he "came to grief."

The following is copied from the "Portland Daily Press," of March 21.

"EXPOSED.--The 'wonderful' spiritual manifestations of the

'boy-medium,' Master Henry B. Allen, in charge of Doctor J. H.

Randall, of Boston, were brought to a sad end last evening by the

impertinent curiosity and wicked doings of some of the gentlemen

present at the seance at Congress Hall.

"As usual, one of the company present was selected to sit at the

side of the boy, and allowed his hand and arm to be held by both

hands of the boy while the manifestations were going on. The boy

seized hold of the gentleman's wrist with his left hand, and his

shoulder, or near it, with the right hand. The manifestations then

began, and among them was one trick of pulling the gentleman's


"Immediately after this trick was performed, the hand of the boy

was discovered to be very black--from lamp-black, of the best

quality, with which the gentleman had dressed his head on purpose

to detect whose was the 'spirit-hand' that pulled his hair. His

shirt-sleeve, upon which the boy immediately replaced his hand

after pulling his hair, was also black where the hand had been

placed. The gentleman stated the facts to the company present, and

the seance broke up. Dr. Randall refunded the fifty cents admission

fee to those present."

The spiritualists of the city were somewhat staggered by this expose,

but soon rallied as one of their number announced a new discovery in

spiritual science. Here it is, as stated by himself:

"Whatever the electrical or 'spirit-hand' touches, will inevitably be

transferred to the hand of the medium in every instance, unless

something occurs to prevent the full operation of the law by which this

result is produced. The spirit-hand being composed in part of the

magnetic elements drawn from the medium, when it is dissolved again, and

the magnetic fluid returns whence it came, it must of necessity carry

with it whatever material substance it has touched, and leave it

deposited upon the surface or material hand of the medium. This is a

scientific question. How many innocent mediums have been wronged? and

the invisible have permitted it, until we should discover that it was

the natural result of a natural law."

What a great discovery! and how lucidly it is set forth! The author

(who, by the way, is editor of the "Portland Evening Courier") of this

new discovery, was not so modest but that he hastened to announce and

claim full credit for it in the columns of the "Banner of Light"--the

editor of which journal congratulates him on having done so much for the

cause of spiritualism! Those skeptics who were present when the

lamp-black was "transferred" from the gentleman's hair to the medium's

hand, rashly concluded that the boy was an impostor. It remained for Mr.

Hall--that is the philosopher's name--to make the "electro-magnetic

transfer" discovery. The Allen boy ought ever to hold him in grateful

remembrance for coming to his rescue at such a critical period, when the

spirits would not vouchsafe an explanation that would exculpate him from

the grievous charge of imposture. Mr. Hall deserves a leather medal now,

and a soapstone monument when he is dead.

A person, whose initials are the same as the gentleman's named above,

once lived in Aroostook, Maine, and was in the habit of attending

"spiritual circles," in which he was sometimes influenced as a

"personating medium," and to represent the symptoms of the disease which

caused the controlling spirit's translation to another sphere. It having

been reported in Aroostook that a certain well-known individual, living

further east, had died of cholera, a desire was expressed at the next

"circle" to have him "manifest" himself. The medium above referred to

got "under influence," and personated, with an exhibition of all the

symptoms of cholera, the gentleman who was reported to have died of that

disease. So faithful to the supposed facts was the representation, that

the medium had to be cared for as if he was himself a veritable

cholera-patient. Several days after, the man who was "personated"

appeared in Aroostook, alive and well, never having been attacked with

the cholera. The local papers gave a graphic account of the

"manifestation" soon after it occurred.

But to return to the Allen boy. After his exposure by means of the

lamp-black test, and Mr. Hall, of the "Portland Evening Courier," had

announced his new discovery in spiritual science, several of the

Portland spiritualists had a private "sitting" with the boy. While he

sat with his hands upon the arm of one of their number, they tied a rope

to his wrists, and around the person's arm, covering his hands in the

way I have before described. After some wriggling and twisting (the

usual amount of "nervousness,") the bell was heard to ring behind the

clothes-horse. The boy's right hand was then examined, and it was found

to be stained with some colored matter that had previously been put upon

the handle of the bell. As the boy's wrists were still tied, and the

rope remained upon the man's arm, the "transfer" theory was considered

to be established as a fact, and the previous exposure shown to be not

only no exposure at all, but a "stepping-stone to a grand truth in

spiritual science." Again and again did these persistent and infatuated

spiritualists try what they call the "transfer test," varying with each

experiment the coloring-material used, and every time the bell was rung

the medium's right hand was found out to be stained with what had been

put upon the bell-handle. By having a little slack-rope between his

wrist and the man's arm, it was not a difficult matter for the medium,

while his "nervousness" was being manifested, to get hold of the bell

and ring it, and to make sounds upon the strings of the dulcimer or

guitar, with a drumstick that the "manager" had placed at a convenient

distance from his (the boy's) hand.

The "Portland Daily Press," in noticing a lecture against Spiritualism,

recently delivered by Dr. Von Vleck, in that city, says:--"He (Dr. V.

V.) performed the principal feats of the Allen boy, with his hands tied

to the arm of the person with whom he was in communication."

Horace Greeley says that if a man will be a consummate jackass and fool,

he is not aware of anything in the Constitution to prevent it. I believe

Mr. Greeley is right; and I think no one can reasonably be expected to

exercise common sense unless he is known to possess it. It is quite

natural, therefore, that many of the spiritualists, lacking common

sense, should pretend to have something better.

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Previous: Spiritualist Humbugs Waking Up

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