A “Medium” Wanted
Theosophist, May, 1881
We extract the following from a letter, dated April 7—from an esteemed friend of ours, a native gentleman and a Fellow of our Society at Allahabad:—
“An idea has recently sprung up in my mind which I state for your kind consideration. In India there are no regular mediums, hence people anxious to satisfy themselves of the truth of spiritual phenomena or any other occult manifestations cannot do so except by reading books. Cannot some such medium as Dr. Slade or anyone in Europe be induced to pay India a visit, if the expenses of his journey are paid? If so, persons interested may raise a sum for the purpose. If you approve of the plan it might be notified in the next issue of the THEOSOPHIST. I am willing to subscribe to the extent of Rs. 100 toward this fund.”
Once before, while in America, we were entrusted with the selection of a reliable medium for physical manifestations and had but to congratulate ourselves with the success obtained. The St. Petersburg Committee of Spiritualists had asked us to choose one who would be willing to undertake the voyage, and our choice fell upon Dr. Henry Slade, the best medium we had ever met. It was he whose wonderful phenomena made a proselyte of one of the greatest men of science in Germany—Professor Zôllner. We are willing to do the same for our Indian and Anglo-Indian friends, provided we are promised not to be held responsible for any possible failure, nor asked to have anything to do with any funds that may be collected. We can answer personally for but two mediums in the world—Mrs. Mary Hollis-Billing, a Fellow of our Society in America, and Dr. Slade. There may be others as good, but we do not know them. There is one though, who has just gone to America. He comes as a third candidate with recommendations from some of our most esteemed Fellows and Brothers of England who have subjected him personally to the most crucial tests and found in him everything that is desirable. We speak of Mr. William Eglinton, a young gentleman well known in London, and who has been frequently invited to the houses of the most respectable and eminent among the English Spiritualists. We read of a most satisfactory séance with that medium at the British National Association of Spiritualists when wonderful “test materializations,” it seems, have taken place in his presence.
“The Spiritualist (London) for March 3, 1876, records that an interesting séance took place at the residence of Mrs. Makdougall Gregory, whereat Sir Garnet Wolseley (commander of the Ashantee expedition), the Hon. Mrs. Cowper Temple, Gen. Brewster, Algernon Joy, Esq., J. M. Gully, M.D., and others, were present. The same issue gives the following testimony from Miss E. Kislingbury, the then Secretary of the British National Association.
“A most satisfactory test séance, with Mr. Eglinton as medium, was held at 38 Great Russell Street, on the 12th instant. It was attended by Mr. Alexander Tod, of Peebles; Mr. Robert S. Wyld, LL.D., Edin.; Mr. Gustave de Veh, of Paris; Mr. Collingwood; Mrs. Fitzgerald, and Mrs. D. G. Fitzgerald; Mrs. Potts and Mrs. Michael; Miss Kislingbury on behalf of the Séance Committee of the British National Association of Spiritualists.
“As preliminaries, the cabinet was duly scrutinized, the medium enclosed therein, and instructions in the direct voice were obtained from Joey—the intelligent and practical spirit ‘control’—to the effect that he (the medium) should be secured and seated as on the last occasion when he gave a séance at these rooms. Accordingly Dr. Wyld and Mr. Collingwood, being investigators, were requested to constitute “a tying committee.” These gentlemen performed their duty in a very thorough manner; first tying the medium’s wrists together behind him with tape; then seeing that his coat sleeves were securely sewn together with white cotton; then tying his wrists to the back of the chair within the cabinet; then tying his neck to the chair; and lastly passing the free end of the tape used for the last mentioned purpose through an aperture in the cabinet, so that Dr. Wyld might hold it in his hand whilst he was seated in the “circle.” When the tying was completed the medium was requested to place his feet upon a hassock; the curtains of the cabinet were drawn so as to leave his feet and knees in view, and a stringed musical instrument was placed in his lap, constituting a kind of table on which were placed a book and a hand bell.
“In about half an hour the book was distinctly and repeatedly seen to open and close again. Then a finger was seen in proximity to the book; and in a short time afterwards a hand was several times protruded between the curtains. Joey now requested that someone should come forward and ascertain, immediately after a hand had been shown, whether the medium was still secured as at first. This challenge was taken up by Dr. Wyld and Mr. Collingwood and these gentlemen, at the conclusion of the séance, gave their individual testimony as to the result.
“On two occasions, immediately after seeing the ‘spirit’ hand protruded from the cabinet, I examined Mr. Eglinton’s bonds and found them perfectly secure.
(Signed) R. S. WYLD. 1
I also, on one occasion, did the same.
J. FRED COLLINGWOOD.
“Miss Kislingbury then asked Joey whether Dr. Wyld could be to stand behind the medium, inside the cabinet, while the materialized hand was shown to the sitters outside. This enquiry was answered in the affirmative; and accordingly, Dr. Wyld entered the cabinet and took up a position behind the medium, who moaned and shivered as though ‘power’ were being drawn from him to an unusual extent. In relation to this test, I obtained the following very brief but sufficient testimony, bearing in mind the value of evidence on the spot and at that time:
“We saw that hand whilst Dr. Wyld was in the cabinet.
|G. DE VEH,||E. KISLINGBURY,|
|ELLEN POTTS,||E. FITZ-GERALD.|
“Dr. Wyld also expressed himself as being perfectly satisfied with the test.”
Were Mr. Eglinton to accept the invitation and come to India, the native Mussulman gentlemen may be gratified, perhaps, upon seeing “the spirit” of one of their own co-religionists appear through that medium. The following is over the signature of no less a man of science than Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace, F.R.S., who vouches for the reality of the “materialized spirit.”
“The sitting took place in the first-floor front room. Across one corner of this room there was hung a curtain of black calico, which one of us (Mr. Tebb) helped to put up, while we all examined the enclosed corner and found that it was absolutely free from any means of concealing anything. About twelve ladies and gentlemen were present, who sat in a curve opposite the curtain, and about eight or ten feet from it. . . . . . . . .
“Shortly afterwards the fine figure of ‘Abdullah’ appeared, and after several entrances and exits, came out into the circle close up to where Mr. Wallace was sitting under the gas light, turned down low, but sufficient to allow of the features being distinctly seen by him. The appearance was that of a tall man draped in pure white robes which trailed on the ground, and with a white turban on the front of which sparkled a jewel-like diamond. His face was dark, with fine features and prominent nose, and an enormous black moustache mingling with a comparatively scanty beard gave it a striking individuality. He resembled some of the Mahometans of Northern India. . . . . . .
“After ‘Abdullah’ had retired, a female figure also draped in white, came out, but was indistinctly seen.
“Then appeared another male figure, not so tall as ‘Abdullah.’ He was similarly dressed, but had no moustache, and his features were of a more European cast. Unlike ‘Abdullah’ who glided about with a graceful, noiseless motion, this figure came out suddenly, with a loud, stamping noise, yet the long robes which flowed two or three feet on the ground about his feet, seemed never to impede his motion.
“The white drapery which covered ‘Abdullah’s’ tall figure from head to foot, and trailed amply on the floor, and which, from the way in which it hung and waved, must have been of stout and heavy material, together with his turban and the quantity of fine material exhibited by ‘Joey,’ would have formed a parcel of considerable bulk, which a far less rigid search than ours could have easily detected. We may add that we examined the walls, which were papered, the carpet, which was securely nailed down, and the chair on which the medium sat, and are satisfied that nothing was or could be concealed in or about them.
ALFRED R. WALLACE.
WILLIAM WILLIAMS CLARK.”
We quote the above from Mr. Eglinton’s credentials as published by the Banner of Light of Boston (March 19, 1881). Should a sufficient number of volunteers be found, in India, who would subscribe for the proposed fund, we believe that the best plan would be to place the sum as well as the management of the transaction in the hands of Mrs. A. Gordon, F.T.S., now at Simla, or some other prominent Spiritualist. We can only promise co-operation and help as regards writing to America and other preliminary arrangements. As far as the manifestations are concerned we again repeat that we firmly believe in their occurrence and reality from our personal knowledge; and we should be glad to prove their existence to the sceptics and thereby turn the laugh at many a scoffer we know. But beyond expressing our firm and unwavering belief in the genuineness of most of the mediumistic phenomena and the frequent occurrence of such, independently of any medium whatever, we venture to say no more. Let everyone build his own theory as to the agency at work, and then we may be able to compare notes with better success than heretofore.
1. Dr. R. S. Wyld is a brother to George Wyld, M.D., now re-elected President of the British Theosophical Society of London for another year. Miss Kislingbury is a highly esteemed lady, whose truthfulness no one who knew her would ever doubt; then also a Fellow of our Society.