Demonstrations By Sampson Under A Table

Considerable excitement has been created in various parts of the West by

a young woman, whose name need not here be given, who pretends to be a

"medium for physical manifestations." She is rather tall and quite

muscular, her general manner and expression indicating innocence and


The "manifestations" exhibited by her purport to be produced by Samson,

the Hebrew champion and anti-philistine.

In preparing for her exhibition, she has a table placed sideways against

the wall of the room, and covered with a thick blanket that reaches to

the floor. A large tin dishpan, with handles (or ears,) a German

accordeon, and a tea-bell are placed under the table, at the end of

which she seats herself in such a way that her body is against the top,

and her lower limbs underneath, her skirts being so adjusted as to fill

the space between the end legs of the table, and at the same time allow

free play for her pedal extremities. The blanket, at the end where she

sits, comes to her waist and hangs down to the floor on each side of her

chair. The space under the table is thus made dark--a necessary

condition, it is claimed--and all therein concealed from view. The

"medium" then folds her arms, looks careless, and the "manifestations"

commence. The accordeon is sounded, no music being executed upon it, and

the bell rung at the same time. Then the dishpan receives such treatment

that it makes a terrible noise. Some one is requested to go to the end

of the table opposite the "medium," put his hand under the blanket, take

hold of the dishpan, and pull. He does so, and finds that some power is

opposing him, holding the dishpan to one place. Not being rude, he

forbears to jerk with all his force, but retires to his seat. The table

rises several inches and comes down "kerslap," then it tips forward a

number of times; then one end jumps up and down in time to music, if

there is any one present to play; loud raps are heard upon it, and the

hypothetical Samson has quite a lively time generally. Some of the

mortals present, one at a time, put their fingers, by request, against

the blankets, through which those members are gingerly squeezed by what

might be a hand, if there was one under the table. A person being told

to take hold of the top of the table at the ends, he does so, and finds

it so heavy that he can barely lift it. Setting it down, he is told to

raise it again several inches; and at the second lifting it is no

heavier than one would naturally judge such a piece of furniture to be.

Another person is asked to lift the end furthest from the medium;

having done so, it suddenly becomes quite weighty, and, relaxing his

hold, it comes down with much force upon the floor. Thus, by the

power--exercised beneath the table--of an assumed spirit, that piece of

cabinet-ware becomes heavy or light, and is moved in various ways, the

medium not appearing to do it.

In addition to her other "fixins," this medium has a spirit-dial, so

called, on which are letters of the alphabet, the numerals, and such

words as "Yes," "No," and "Don't know." The whole thing is so arranged

that the pulling of a string makes an index hand go the circuit of the

dial-face, and it can be made to stop at any of the characters or words

thereon. This "spirit-dial" is placed on the table, near the end

furthest from the medium, the string passing through a hole and hanging

beneath. In the end of the string there is a knot. While the medium

remains in the same position in which she sat when the other

"manifestations" were produced, communications are spelled out through

the dial, the index being moved by some power under the table that pulls

the string. A coil-spring makes the index fly back to the

starting-point, when the power is relaxed at each indication of a

character or word. The orthography of these "spirits" is "bad if not


Now for an explanation of the various "manifestations" that I have


The medium is simply handy with her feet. To sound the accordeon and

ring the bell at the same time, she has to take off one of her shoes or

slippers, the latter being generally worn by her on these occasions.

That done, she gets the handle of the tea-bell between the toes of her

right foot, through a hole in the stocking, then putting the heel of the

same foot on the keys of the accordeon, and the other foot into the

strap on the bellows part of that instrument, she easily sounds it, the

motion necessary to do this also causing the bell to ring. She can

readily pass her heels over the keys to produce different notes. She is

thus able to make sounds on the accordeon that approximate to the very

simple tune of "Bounding Billows," and that is the extent of her musical

ability when only using her "pedals."

To get a congress-gaiter off the foot without using the hands is quite

easy; but how to get one on again, those members not being employed to

do it, would puzzle most people. It is not difficult to do, however, if

a cord has been attached to the strap of the gaiter and tied to the leg

above the calf. The cord should be slack, and that will admit of the

gaiter coming off. To get it on, the toe has to be worked into the top

of it, and then pulling on the cord with the toe of the other foot will

accomplish the rest.

The racket with the dishpan is made by putting the toe of the foot into

one of the handles or ears, and beating the pan about. By keeping the

toe in this handle and putting the other foot into the pan, the operator

can "stand a pull" from an investigator, who reaches under the blanket

and takes hold of the other handle.

To raise the table, the "medium" puts her knees under and against the

frame of it, then lifts her heels, pressing the toes against the floor,

at the same time bearing with her arms on the end. To make the table tip

forward, one knee only is pressed against the frame at the back side.

The raps are made with the toe of the medium's shoe against the leg,

frame, or top of the table.

What feels like a hand pressing the investigator's fingers when he puts

them against the blanket, is nothing more than the medium's feet, the

big toe of one foot doing duty for a thumb, and all the toes of the

other foot being used to imitate fingers. The pressure of these, through

a thick blanket, cannot well be distinguished from that of a hand. When

this experiment is to be made, the medium wears slippers that she can

readily get off her feet.

To make the table heavy, the operator presses her knees outwardly

against the legs of the table, and then presses down in opposition to

the party who is lifting, or she presses her knees against that surface

of the legs of the table that is toward her, while her feet are hooked

around the lower part of the legs; that gives her a leverage, by means

of which she can make the whole table or the end furthest from her seem

quite heavy, and if the person lifting it suddenly relaxes his hold, it

will come down with a forcible bang to the floor.

To work the "spirit-dial," the medium has only to press the string with

the toe of her foot against the top of the table, and slide it (the

string) along till the index points at the letter or word she wishes to

indicate. The frame of the dial is beveled, the face declining toward

the medium, so that she has no difficulty in observing where the index


After concluding her performances under the table, this medium sometimes

moves her chair about two feet back and sits with her side toward the

end of the table, with one leg of which, however, the skirt of her dress

comes in contact. Under cover of the skirt she then hooks her foot

around the leg of the table and draws it toward her. This is done

without apparent muscular exertion, while she is engaged in

conversation; and parties present are humbugged into the belief that the

table was moved without "mortal contact"--so they report to outsiders.

This medium has a "manager," and he does his best in managing the

matter, to prevent "Samson being caught" in the act of cheating. The

medium, too, is vigilant, notwithstanding her appearance of carelessness

and innocent simplicity. A sudden rising of the blanket once exposed to

view her pedal extremities in active operation.

Another of the "Dark Circle" mediums gets a good deal of sympathy on

account of her "delicate health." Her health is not so delicate,

however, as to prevent her from laboring hard to humbug people with

"physical demonstrations." She operates only in private, in presence of

a limited number of people.

A circle being formed, the hands of all the members are joined except at

one place where a table intervenes. Those sitting next to this table

place a hand upon it, the other hand of each of these parties being

joined with the circle. The medium takes a position close by the table,

and during the manifestations is supposed to momentarily touch with her

two hands the hands of those parties sitting next to the table. Of

course, she could accomplish little or nothing if she allowed her hands

to be constantly held by investigators; so she hit upon the plan

mentioned above, to make the people present believe that the musical

instruments are not sounded by her. These instruments are within her

reach; and instead of touching the hands of those next the table with

both her hands, as supposed, she touches, alternately, their hands with

but one of hers, the other she expertly uses in sounding the


Several years ago, at one of the circles of this medium, in St. John's,

Mich., a light was suddenly introduced, and she was seen in the act of

doing what she had asserted to be done by the "spirits." She has also

been exposed as an impostor in other places.

As I have said before, the mediums always insist on having such

"conditions" as will best enable them to deceive the senses and mislead

the judgment.

If there were a few more "detectives" like Doctor Von Vleck, the whole

mediumistic fraternity would soon "come to grief."