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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sir William Crookes-Researches into the Phenomena of Spiritualism-C [BOOK]


Researches into the Phenomena of Spiritualism
Sir William Crookes
C


The Last of Katie King
 -Sir William Crookes -
First published in The Spiritualist, June 5th 1874
          HAVING TAKEN a very prominent part of late at Miss Cook's séances, and having been very successful in taking numerous photographs of Katie King by the aid of the electric light, I have thought that the publication of a few of the details would be of interest to the readers of the Spiritualist.
During the week before Katie took her departure she gave séances at my house almost nightly, to enable me to photograph her by artificial light. Five complete sets of photographic apparatus were accordingly fitted up for the purpose, consisting of five cameras, one of the wholeplate size, one half-plate, one quarter-plate, and two binocular stereoscopic cameras, which were all brought to bear upon Katie at the same time on each occasion on which she stood for her portrait. Five sensitising and five fixing baths were used, and plenty of plates were cleaned ready for use in advance, so that there might be no hitch or delay during the photographic operations, which were performed by myself, aided by one assistant.
My library was used as a dark cabinet. It has folding doors opening into the laboratory; one of these doors was taken off its hinges, and a curtain suspended in its place to enable Katie to pass in and out easily. Those of our friends who were present were seated in the laboratory facing the curtain, and the cameras were placed a little behind them, ready to photograph Katie when she came outside, and to photograph anything also inside the cabinet, whenever the curtain was withdrawn for the purpose. Each evening there were three or four exposures of plates in the five cameras, giving at least fifteen separate pictures at each séance; some of these were spoilt in the developing, and some in regulating the amount of light. Although I have forty-four negatives, some inferior, some indifferent, and some excellent.
Katie instructed all the sitters but myself to keep their seats and to keep conditions, but for some time past she has given me permission to do what I liked - to touch her, and to enter and leave the cabinet almost whenever I pleased. I have frequently followed her into the cabinet, and have sometimes seen her and her medium together, but most generally I have found nobody but the entranced medium lying on the floor, Katie and her white robes having instantaneously disappeared.
During the last six months Miss Cook has been a frequent visitor at my house, remaining sometimes a week at a time. She brings nothing with her but a little hand-bag, not locked; during the day she is constantly in the presence of Mrs. Crookes, myself, or some other member of my family, and, not sleeping by herself, there is absolutely no opportunity for any preparation even of a less elaborate character than would be required for enacting Katie King. I prepare and arrange my library myself as the dark cabinet, and usually, after Miss Cook has been dining and conversing with us, and scarcely out of our sight for a minute, she walks direct into the cabinet, and I, at her request, lock its second door, and keep possession of the key all through the séance; the gas is then turned out, and Miss Cook is left in darkness.
On entering the cabinet, Miss Cook lies down upon the floor, with her head on a pillow, and is soon entranced. During the photographic séance, Katie muffled her medium's head up in a shawl to prevent the light falling upon her face. I frequently drew the curtain on one side when Katie was standing near, and it was a common thing for the seven or eight of us in the laboratory to see Miss Cook and Katie at the same time, under the full blaze of the electric light. We did not on these occasions actually see the face of the medium because of the shawl, but we saw her hands and feet; we saw her move uneasily under the influence of the intense light, and we heard her moan occasionally. I have one photograph of the two together, but Katie is seated in front of Miss Cook's head.
During the time I have taken an active part in these séances Katie's confidence in me gradually grew, until she refused to give a séance unless I took charge of the arrangements. She said she always wanted me to keep close to her, and near the cabinet, and I found that after this confidence was established, and she was satisfied I would not break any promise I might make to her, the phenomena increased greatly in power, and tests were freely given that would have been unobtainable had I approached the subject in another manner. She often consulted me about persons present at the séances, and where they should be placed, for of late she had become very nervous, in consequence of certain ill-advised suggestions that force should be employed as an adjunct to more scientific modes of research.
One of the most interesting of the pictures is one in which I am standing by the side of Katie; she has her bare foot upon a particular part of the floor. Afterwards I dressed Miss Cook like Katie, placed her and myself in exactly the same position, and we were photographed by the same cameras, placed exactly as in the other experiment, and illuminated by the same light. When these two pictures are placed over each other, the two photographs of myself coincide exactly as regards stature, etc., but Katie is half a head taller than Miss Cook, and looks a big woman in comparison with her. In the breadth of her face, in many of the pictures, she differs essentially in size from her medium, and the photographs show several other points of difference.
But photography is as inadequate to depict the perfect beauty of Katie's face as words are powerless to describe her charms of manner. Photography may, indeed, give a map of her countenance; but how can it reproduce the brilliant purity of her complexion, or the ever-varying expression of her mobile features, now overshadowed with sadness when relating some of the bitter experiences of her past life, now smiling with all the innocence of happy girlhood when she had collected my children round her and was amusing them by recounting anecdotes of her adventures in India?
"Round her she made an atmosphere of life;
The very air seemed lighter from her eyes,
They were so soft and beautiful, and rife
With all we can imagine of the skies;
Her overpowering presence made you feel
It would not be idolatry to kneel."
Having seen so much of Katie lately, when she has been illuminated by the electric light, I am enabled to add to the points of difference between her and her medium which I mentioned in a former article. I have the most absolute certainty that Miss Cook and Katie are two separate individuals so far as their bodies are concerned. Several little marks on Miss Cook's face are absent on Katie's. Miss Cook's hair is so dark a brown as almost to appear black; a lock of Katie's, which is now before me, and which she allowed me to cut from her luxuriant tresses, having first traced it up to the scalp and satisfied myself that it actually grew there, is a rich golden auburn. 
One evening I timed Katie's pulse. It beat steadily at 75, whilst Miss Cook's pulse a little time after was going at its usual rate of 90. On applying my ear to Katie's chest I heard a heart beating rhythmically inside, and pulsating even more steadily than did Miss Cook's heart when she allowed me to try a similar experiment after the séance. Tested in the same way, Katie's lungs were found to be sounder than her medium's, for at the time I tried my experiment Miss Cook was under medical treatment for a severe cough.
Your readers may be interested in having Mrs. Ross Church's (Florence Marryat, author of 'There is No Death') and your own accounts of the last appearance of Katie supplemented by my own narrative, as far as I can publish it. When the time came for Katie to take her farewell I asked that she would let me see the last of her. Accordingly when she had called each of the company up to her and had spoken to them a few words in private, she gave some general directions for the future guidance and protection of Miss Cook. From these, which were taken down in shorthand, I quote the following: "Mr. Crookes has done very well throughout, and I leave Florrie with the greatest confidence in his hands, feeling perfectly sure he will not abuse the trust I place in him. He can act in any emergency better than I can myself, for he has more strength." Having concluded her directions Katie invited me into the cabinet with her, and allowed me to remain there to the end.
After closing the curtain she conversed with me for some time, and then walked across the room to where Miss Cook was lying senseless on the floor. Stooping over her, Katie touched her, and said: "Wake up, Florrie, wake up! I must leave you now." Miss Cook then woke and tearfully entreated Katie to stay a little time longer. "My dear, I can't; my work is done. God bless you," Katie replied, and then continued speaking to Miss Cook. For several minutes the two were conversing with each other, till at last Miss Cook's tears prevented her speaking. Following Katie's instructions I then came forward to support Miss Cook, who was falling on the floor, sobbing hysterically. I looked round, but the white-robed Katie had gone. As soon as Miss Cook was sufficiently calmed, a light was procured and I led her out of the cabinet.
The almost daily séances with which Miss Cook has lately favoured me have proved a severe tax upon her strength, and I wish to make the most public acknowledgment of the obligations I am under to her for her readiness to assist me in my experiments. Every test that I have proposed she has at once agreed to submit to with the utmost willingness; she is open and straight-forward in speech, and I have never seen anything approaching the slightest symptom of a wish to deceive. Indeed, I do not believe she could carry on a deception if she were to try, and if she did she would certainly be found out very quickly, for such a line of action is altogether foreign to her nature. And to imagine that an innocent school-girl of fifteen should be able to conceive and then successfully carry out for three years so gigantic an imposture as this, and in that time should submit to any test which might be imposed upon her, should bear the strictest scrutiny, should be willing to be searched at any time, either before or after the séance, and should meet with even better success in my own house than at that of her parents, knowing that she visited me with the express object of submitting to strict scientific tests - to imagine, I say, the Katie King of the last three years to be the result of imposture does more violence to one's reason and common sense than to believe her to be what she herself affirms.
It would not be right for me to conclude this article without also thanking Mr. and Mrs. Cook for the great faculties they have given me to carry on these observations and experiments.
---------------------------------------
Sir William Crookes addresses the British Association

At the annual assembly of that most representative body, the British Association, at Bristol, in 1898, Sir William Crookes again declared himself upon the subject of his researches.
Since his first utterance, in 1874, many doubters had arisen who had declared that the scientist had swerved from his former course and no longer believed in the genuineness of the manifestations witnessed. His words before the British Association leave no doubt in the mind. He said:
          NO INCIDENT in my scientific career is more widely known than the part I took many years ago in certain psychic researches. Thirty years have passed since I published an account of experiments tending to show that outside our scientific knowledge there exists a Force exercised by intelligence differing from the ordinary intelligence common to mortals. This fact in my life is, of course, well understood by those who honoured me with the invitation to become your President. Perhaps among my audience some may feel curious as to whether I shall speak out or be silent. I elect to speak, although briefly. To ignore the subject would be an act of cowardice - an act of cowardice I feel no temptation to commit.
I have nothing to retract. I adhere to my already published statements. Indeed, I might add much thereto. I regret only a certain crudity in those early expositions which, no doubt justly, militated against their acceptance by the scientific world. My own knowledge at that time scarcely extended beyond the fact that certain phenomena new to science had assuredly occurred, and were attested by my own sober senses, and, better still, by automatic record.
I think I see a little farther now. I have glimpses of something like coherence among the strange elusive phenomena; of something like continuity between those unexplained forces and laws already known. This advance is largely due to the labours of another Association of which I have also this year the honour to be President - the Society for Psychical Research. And were I now introducing for the first time these inquiries to the world of science I should choose a starting point different from that of old. It would be well to begin with telepathy; with the fundamental law, as I believe it to be, that thoughts and images may be transferred from one mind to another without the agency of the recognized organs of sense - that knowledge may enter the human mind without being communicated in any hitherto known or recognized ways.
If telepathy takes place we have two physical facts - the physical change in the brain of A, the suggester, and the analogous physical change in the brain of B, the recipient of the suggestion. Between these two physical events there must exist a train of physical causes. Whenever the connecting sequence of intermediate causes begins to be revealed the inquiry will then come within the range of one of the Sections of the British Association. Such a sequence can only occur through an intervening medium. All the phenomena of the universe are presumably in some way continuous, and it is unscientific to call in the aid of mysterious agencies when with every fresh advance in knowledge it is shown that ether vibrations have powers and attributes abundantly equal to any demand - even to the transmission of thought. It is supposed by some physiologists that the essential cells of nerves do not actually touch, but are separated by a narrow gap which widens in sleep while it narrows almost to extinction during mental activity. This condition is so singularly like that of a Branly or Lodge coherer as to suggest a further analogy. The structure of nerve and brain being similar, it is conceivable there may be present masses of such nerve coherers in the brain whose special function it may be to receive impulses brought from without through the connecting sequence of ether waves of appropriate order of magnitude. Roentgen has familiarized us with an order of vibrations of extreme minuteness compared with the smallest wave with which we have otherwise been acquainted, and of dimensions comparable with the distances between the centers of the atoms of which the material universe is built up: and there is no reason to suppose that we have here reached the limit of frequency. It is known that the action of thought is accompanied by certain molecular movements in the brain, and here we have physical vibrations capable from their extreme minuteness of acting direct on individual molecules, while their rapidity approaches that of the internal and external movements of the atoms themselves. 
Confirmation of telepathic phenomena is afforded by many converging experiments, and by many spontaneous occurrences only thus intelligible. The most varied proof, perhaps, is drawn from analysis of the sub-conscious workings of the mind, when these, whether by accident or design, are brought into conscious survey. Evidence of a region below the threshold of consciousness has been presented, since its first inception, in the "Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research;" and its various aspects are being interpreted and welded into a comprehensive whole by the pertinacious genius of F. W. H. Myers.
A formidable range of phenomena must be scientifically sifted before we effectually grasp a faculty so strange, so bewildering, and for ages so inscrutable, as the direct action of mind on mind. This delicate task needs a rigorous employment of the method of exclusion - a constant setting aside of irrelevant phenomena that could be explained by known causes, including those far too familiar causes, conscious and unconscious fraud. The inquiry unites the difficulties inherent in all experimentation connected with mind, with tangled human temperaments and with observations dependent less on automatic record than on personal testimony. But difficulties are things to be overcome even in the elusory branch of research known as Experimental Psychology.
It has been said that "Nothing worth the proving can be proved, nor yet disproved." True though this may have been in the past, it is true no longer. The science of our century has forged weapons of observation and analysis by which the veriest tyro may profit. Science has trained and fashioned the average mind into habits of exactitude and disciplined perception, and in so doing has fortified itself for tasks higher, wider, and incomparably more wonderful than even the wisest among our ancestors imagined. Like the souls in Plato's myth that follow the chariot of Zeus, it has ascended to a point of vision far above the earth. It is henceforth open to science to transcend all we now think we know of matter, and to gain new glimpses of a profounder scheme of Cosmic Law.
An eminent predecessor in this chair declared that "by an intellectual necessity he crossed the boundary of experimental evidence, and discerned in that matter, which we, in our ignorance of its latent powers, and notwithstanding our professed reverence for its Creator, have hitherto covered with opprobrium, the potency and promise of all terrestrial life." I should prefer the apophthegm, and to say that in life I see the promise and potency of all forms of matter.
In old Egyptian days a well-known inscription was carved over the portal of the temple of Isis: "I am whatever hath been, is, or ever will be; and my veil no man hath yet lifted." Not thus do modern seekers after truth confront Nature - the word that stands for the baffling mysteries of the Universe. Steadily, unflinchingly, we strive to pierce the inmost heart of Nature, from what she is to reconstruct what she has been, and to prophesy what she yet shall be. Veil after veil we have lifted, and her face grows more beautiful, august, and wonderful, with every barrier that is withdrawn.
-----------------------------------


The Reality of Katie King
 - (Author unknown) -


 THE READER may have gotten the impression from the earlier experiments entered in this journal that Victorian Britain took these reports from its leading physicist in stride. It is a tribute to Crookes that he makes small reference to the religious and scientific storm that swirled around him because of his investigations. He was regarded by many as a sort of Jekyll and Hyde, contributing monumental scientific discoveries on the one hand, and on the other, plunging into the depths of irrationalism. But nothing was comparable to the furious response that followed the first reports of his investigations with Florence Cook and the Katie King materialization. He and Florence Cook were bitterly attacked. This part of the journal begins with his reply to his critics.
If this criticism had any constructive purpose at all, it was to increase the vigilance of the observers and the numbers of witnesses requested to view and testify to the validity of the phenomena. It made Sir William and his associates more determined than ever to prove beyond doubt the objective reality of Katie King. It was known at this time that Sir William (he wasn't Sir William Crooks yet) was being considered for knighthood, and the outraged members of the scientific community and press militated against the conferring of this honour. They accused him of fraud, and of philandering with Florence Cook. But in 1897 despite the tumultuous controversy, be was knighted by the British Empire. It was a cutting blow to his critics.
Florence Cook (1856-1904) was one of three sisters. At fifteen, having attended a spectacular séance with her mother at the home of a friend, she resolved to be a medium. She had demonstrated abilities before, and with her new determination began to achieve dramatic results. After a few séances, to the utter astonishment of those present, the phantom form of a woman began to appear beside her. The materialization was alarmingly complete and, not surprisingly, Miss Cook was accused of trickery. To demonstrate her honesty she allowed herself to be bound, the knots of the cords were sealed, and she was placed in a tiny niche that restricted her movements. Still the phantom appeared and walked among those present. Word of the phenomenon spread quickly, and it was thus that Florence Cook came to the attention of Sir William Crookes. She was willing to submit to his controls, and they began their three-year series of experiments.
Cesare Lombroso spoke of the phenomenon.
"The case of Katie King, which was for three years under the observation of the most eminent English experimenters, seems to me free of all suspicion ..."
Florence Marryat, another of the investigators, gave this testimony: 
"Katie King stood by the wall of the room, with both arms extended, as if crucified. Three gas jets threw a bright light upon her. The effect was stupefying. She remained so for about one second, then began to disintegrate, her features becoming nebulous, the eyes retreating into their orbits, the nose disappeared, and then the brows, then the limbs seemed to drop apart to the floor. At last only part of the bead and some white garments remained, then all vanished."
At a séance in the home of Mr. Luxmore, a participant without warning seized Katie by the wrist as she moved among them. He cried, "It's the medium!" Suddenly Katie lost her arms and legs. She dissolved in the captor's grasp, leaving no trace. Immediately after this episode, Miss Cook was examined and found still tied with the knots intact.
In an experiment Crookes conducted with Miss Cook, Mr. Tapp, an assistant, took hold of Katie's wrist. He said of this:
"Her wrist gave way under my grasp like a piece of thin card or paper, and my fingers met through her arm as if it were fluid."
No one knew who Katie King was. She claimed to be the daughter of John King (the spirit contact of yet another medium, Eusapia Paladino), said she had lived in India, had been married and had slain her two children. None of this information was ever verified, and was of less interest to Sir William and his associates than' establishing her existence as an actual phantom.
As the sensational nature of the Katie King phenomena unfolded, and the testimony of credible witnesses plus the nature of the scientific controls were divulged the Episcopal Church entered the picture. Far from doubting the phenomenon, they accepted it as real, and attacked it on scriptural grounds, declaring it to be a positive proof of Satanism. Crookes, his colleagues and witnesses were accused of trafficking with the devil. The press, which had at first supported Crookes in anticipation of his exposure of "spiritist" manifestations, now swung to the popular opinion that Crookes was himself a hoaxster, possibly using the bizarre circumstance of Miss Cook's mediumship as a cover-up for an affair with her.
Actually, to dispose of the situation of Miss Cook's mediumship by explaining it in terms of Sir William's emotional susceptibility to her has its weaknesses. It implies that Sir William, who had heretofore displayed intelligence and discipline in his scientific pursuits, had suddenly become less than reliable. Most important, it does not take into account the objective observations of Varley and Wallace or the highly sophisticated controls that were set up before each séance in the presence of critical witnesses, who also confirmed the reality of the manifestations.
Katie King was photographed many times while the medium was in a trance. The entrance and exit of a second person (an accomplice) was made impossible by the precautions taken. We cannot suppose that these investigators were for three years the witless victims of a trick such as the secret entrance and exit of a confederate working with Miss Cook. This was the first assumption against which precautions were taken. Furthermore, even the most skilled confederate could not dissolve bit by bit before the eyes of creditable witnesses viewing the event in gaslight. Nor could a confederate make her wrist so fluid that a thumb and forefinger could pass through it. Katie King's white robe is typical of ectoplasmic entities.
Schrenck-Notzing, during materialization with another medium, retained a small amount of ectoplasm. On analysis, it was composed of protein, fat and other organic substances. Very likely, it is this ectoplasmic formation that had led to the classic "sheet' which is presumed to enshroud all ghosts.
It might be well at this point to consider the matter of ectoplasm in more detail. The word, invented by Dr. Charles Richet, is derived from the Greek ektos (without) and plasm (form). Dr. Richet, one of many critical observers of materialization phenomena, states:
"I have clearly seen in conditions of good light, the ectoplasmic forms in the process of organization. Fraud under the conditions imposed was impossible. Rectilinear extensions emerge from the medium's body terminating and acting like a living hand ... at first the ectoplasmic limbs appear thin and stiff. Little by little they thicken, taking the form of more or less solid limbs.
"I personally in good light have seen the first lineaments of ectoplasm emerge as a kind of liquid or pasty jelly from the mouth or the breast of the medium. It organizes itself by degrees into the shape of a face or limb. Under these same conditions of good visibility I have, along with Schrenck-Notzing, Dr. Geley, Mine. Bisson, Zöllner and Oliver Lodge, seen this paste spread on my knee and slowly take form so as to show the rudiments, of the radius, cubitus or metacarpal bone whose increasing pressure I could feel on my knee. The ectoplasmic cloud would seem to become living substance while at the same time veils develop around it that conceal the mechanism of its formation into ephemeral living tissue."
A microscopic analysis of a sufficient residue of this ectoplasmic substance was obtained by Schrenck-Notzing. It indicated epithelial cells, bacterial forms and substantial evidences of fat. It appeared entirely organic in nature, comprising matter equivalent to living tissue.
In the case of Katie King we have the extraordinary extension of the ectoplasmic form into an entity entirely separate from the medium. While this type of materialization is not unique it is, in the matter of documentation, one of the most important on record. We must not forget, however, that in many instances Katie King was a far from perfect materialization, particularly when she appeared only to the waist in the remarkable incident reported at one séance. Mr. Varley had attached a galvanometer to Miss Cook, who was entranced on the sofa, so that any movement by her would be indicated on the galvanometer by a deflection of the needle. But there was no such deflection when Katie King appeared with only the upper part of her body materialized, though Mr. Varley was able to grasp her hand for all to see in the full view of the electric light.
The methods used to preclude fraud were far in excess of anything the average reader might be able to devise. With the aid of Varley and Wallace, Crookes set snares that made Miss Cook a virtual prisoner during the séances, though Sir William refers to them simply as "proper precautions." Reports by Varley go into greater detail. Let's examine the arrangements employed, none of which were ever explained to Miss Cook. First, before any of the controls were set, Miss Cook was inspected by a female member of the investigators to ensure that she had nothing on her person but the clothes she wore. Second, she was then admitted to the library, where she was situated for the duration of the séance, The room was thoroughly searched, the windows were closed and sealed with thread secured by imprinted wax over the knots. The door to the library was then closed, locked and secured in a similar manner. Third, Miss Cook, reposing on the couch, was wired by each wrist with a fragile platinum wire that ran from a battery source to a galvanometer in the laboratory. Any movement of the wire over the skin surface - or its removal - would change the resistance of the current flow and would be immediately detectable by the galvanometer. In some instances, she was even bound hand and foot with stout cord in addition to these other precautions. Fourth, the curtained entrance to the laboratory was crossed with fine wire, making it impossible to pass through without breaking a circuit connected to another galvanometer. Fifth, the windows and doors to the laboratory were sealed in the same fashion as those in the library, and the room was searched by each investigator. 
Varley said:
"The medium was treated like a telegraphic cable. An electric current passed from her right wrist along her arm to her left wrist, as well as another circuit across the door into the laboratory. Despite all this the half-materialized form of Katie King appeared down to the waist only, the remainder of the body being missing or invisible. I held the hand of this strange being, and at the end of the séance, Katie told me to go and awaken the medium. I found Miss Cook entranced as I had left her, and all the wires intact. I then awakened Miss Cook."
In studying the room diagram, the reader may properly ask why the separate room and curtain were necessary to the phenomena; they tend to make the demonstration suspect. The answer to this must be that the arrangement appeared to facilitate the generation of the force. The medium had to feel secure to achieve a trance condition. 
Sir William satisfied his misgivings by entering the library with Katie King and seeing both the medium and the apparition together. In order for this to have been possible, the phenomenon must either have been real, or Miss, Cook must have had an accomplice. The latter possibility was ruled out by the precautions taken against just such an eventuality. Further, an accomplice would have been in a fine position eventually to profit handsomely from the exposure of the hoax - but no such claim has ever come to light.
We are left then, if we do not accept the facts, with one alternative; we must conclude that all the investigators, regardless of their characters and prominence, were co-conspirators in a senseless fraud, the interception of which would have ruined them socially and professionally. It does more violence to one's common sense to believe this than to accept the phenomena as genuine.
To attack Crookes and his associates as frauds leaves much unanswered. How are we to consider his crucial lever experiments done in the presence of distinguished witnesses - was this fraud? Is it reasonable to suppose that after stating that he intended to expose men such as D. D. Home, Sir William would then resort to chicanery in the presence of skilled observers, and scientifically establish the powers that Home had claimed? What about the accordion experiments - was this mal-observation? Conspiratorial fraud? In the Katie King experiments were Varley and Wallace co-conspirators? If so, what were their reasons?
An examination of the record shows us that:
1) By the nature of the controls and the evidence of photographs and witness testimony, Florence Cook herself could not have produced Katie King fraudulently. 
2) These same controls made participation of an accomplice impossible.
3) The premise of fraud requires the cooperation of all who were present. Motivation is not sufficient to support this theory.
4) This narrows the field to Crookes, Varley and Wallace, but there still isn't enough reason to suspect any involvement on the part of Varley and Wallace. (All three of them couldn't have been engaged in an affair with Miss Cook.)
5) This leaves Crookes, but it is still necessary to establish motivation. The only plausible one was a consuming passion for Miss Cook. But Crookes was aware of the insinuations and with the first sproutings of gossip, he saw to it that the supervision of the controls, the processing of the photographs, the inspection of the medium, etc. were all conducted independently of his immediate supervision. His only invariable condition was that unannounced violent action would not be tolerated. Other than this, his collaborators were free to act and impose the most stringent controls.
It is reasonable to assume that his associates we aware of the rumour, and were human enough to keep a watchful eye during the séances to circumvent any involvement in what could, if it were true, explode into a spectacular scandal.
6) If the affair were conducted in the brazen fashion claimed we would have to credit Mrs. Crookes with unsurpassable naiveté. Any woman, no matter how devoted, would make certain such a situation could not exist in her home.
7) And lastly, how do we account for the later sittings of Florence Cook, in which Crookes had no part. These listed are just a few of the hundreds she gave until the time of her death in 1904. In the séances mentioned, the controls were such to preclude the possibility of fraud, but still spectacular phantom forms other than Katie King appeared.
1874 - Sittings under the direction of Prince Emil Sayn Witthenstein (London)
1879 - Sittings under the direction of Professor Robert Friese (London)
1898 - Sittings under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel Le Mesurier Taylor (Cheltenham)
1899 - Sittings under the direction of Dr. E. Andreack (Berlin)
1901 - Sittings under the direction of Captain F. N. Bennett (Gloucestershire)
Aside from Sir William Crookes' delightful style, wry humour and dignified restraint in describing even the most astounding occurrences, we can, perhaps, best determine the measure of the man by his address before the British Association, which follows his account of Miss Florence Cook's Mediumship.
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My Spirit Child
 - Florence Marryat -


     THE SAME year that John Powles died, 1860, I passed through the greatest trouble of my life. It is quite unnecessary to my narrative to relate what that trouble was, nor how it affected me, but I suffered terribly both in mind and body, and it was chiefly for this reason that the medical men advised my return to England, which I reached on the 14th of December, and on the 30th of the same month a daughter was born to me, who survived her birth for only ten days. The child was born with a most peculiar blemish, which it is necessary for the purpose of my argument to describe. On the left side of the upper lip was a mark as though a semicircular piece of flesh had been cut out by a bullet-mould, which exposed part of the gum. The swallow also had been submerged into the gullet, so that she had for the short period of her earthly existence to be fed by artificial means, and the jaw itself had been so twisted that could she have lived to cut her teeth, the double ones would have been in front. This blemish was considered to be of so remarkable a type that Dr. Frederick Butler of Winchester, who attended me, invited several other medical men from Southampton and other places, to examine the infant with him, and they all agreed that a similar case had never come under their notice before. This is a very important factor in my narrative. I was closely catechized as to whether I had suffered any physical or mental shock, that should account for the injury to my child, and it was decided that the trouble I had experienced was sufficient to produce it. The case, under feigned names, was fully reported in the Lancet as something quite out of the common way. My little child, who was baptized by the name of "Florence," lingered until the 10th of January, 1861, and then passed quietly away, and when my first natural disappointment was over I ceased to think of her except as of something which "might have been," but never would be again. In this world of misery, the loss of an infant is soon swallowed up in more active trouble. Still I never quite forgot my poor baby, perhaps because at that time she was happily the "one dead lamb" of my little flock. In recounting the events of my first séance with Mrs. Holmes, I have mentioned how a young girl much muffled up about the mouth and chin appeared, and intimated that she came for me, although I could not recognize her. I was so ignorant of the life beyond the grave at that period, that it never struck me that the baby who had left me at ten days old had been growing since our separation, until she had reached the age of ten years.

The first séance made such an impression on my mind that two nights afterwards I again presented myself (this time alone) at Mrs. Holmes' rooms to attend another. It was a very different circle on the second occasion. There were about thirty people present, all strangers to each other, and the manifestations were proportionately ordinary. Another professional medium, a Mrs. Davenport, was present, as one of her controls, whom she called "Bell," had promised, if possible, to show her face to her. As soon, therefore, as the first spirit face appeared (which was that of the same little girl that I had seen before), Mrs. Davenport exclaimed, "There, 'Bell ... Why!" I said, "that's the little nun we saw on Monday." "O! no! that's my 'Bell'," persisted Mrs. Davenport. But Mrs. Holmes took my side, and was positive the spirit came for me. She told me she had been trying to communicate with her since the previous séance. "I know she is nearly connected with you," she said. "Have you never lost a relation of her age?" "Never!" I replied; and at that declaration the little spirit moved away, sorrowfully as before.

A few weeks after I received an invitation from Mr. Henry Dunphy (the gentleman who had introduced me to Mrs. Holmes) to attend a private séance given at his own house in Upper Gloucester Place, by the well-known medium Florence Cook. The double drawing-rooms were divided by velvet curtains, behind which Miss Cook was seated in an armchair, the curtains being pinned together half-way up, leaving a large aperture in the shape of a V. Being a complete stranger to Miss Cook, I was surprised to hear the voice of her control direct that I should stand by the curtains and hold the lower parts together whilst the forms appeared above, lest the pins should give way, and necessarily from my position I could hear every word that passed between Miss Cook and her guide. The first face that showed itself was that of a man unknown to me; then ensued a kind of frightened colloquy between the medium and her control. "Take it away. Go away! I don't like you. Don't touch me - you frighten me! Go away!" I heard Miss Cook exclaim, and then her guide's voice interposed itself, "Don't be silly, Florrie. Don't be unkind. It won't hurt you," etc., and immediately afterwards the same little girl I had seen at Mrs. Holmes' rose to view at the aperture of the curtains, muffled up as before, but smiling with her eyes at me. I directed the attention of the company to her, calling her again "my little nun," I was surprised, however, at the evident distaste Miss Cook had displayed towards the spirit, and when the séance was concluded and she had regained her normal condition, I asked her if she could recall the faces she saw under trance. "Sometimes," she replied. I told her of the "little nun," and demanded the reason of her apparent dread of her. "I can hardly tell you," said Miss Cook; "I don't know anything about her. She is quite a stranger to me, but her face is not fully developed, I think. There is something wrong about her mouth. She frightens me.

This remark, though made with the utmost carelessness, set me thinking, and after I had returned home, I wrote to Miss Cook, asking her to inquire of her guides who the little spirit was.

She replied as follows:
"Dear Mrs. Ross-Church, I have asked Katie King, but she cannot tell me anything further about the spirit that came through me the other evening than that she is a young girl closely connected with yourself."
I was not, however, yet convinced of the spirit's identity, although John Powles constantly assured me that it was my child. I tried hard to communicate with her at home, but without success. I find in the memoranda I kept of our private séances at that period several messages from Powles referring to Florence. In one he says, "Your child's want of power to communicate with you is not because she is too pure, but because she is too weak. She will speak to you some day. She is not in heaven." This last assertion, knowing so little as I did of a future state, both puzzled and grieved me. I could not believe that an innocent infant was not in the Beatific Presence - yet I could not understand what motive my friend could have in leading me astray. I had yet to learn that once received into Heaven no spirit could return to earth, and that a spirit may have a training to undergo, even though it has never committed a mortal sin. A further proof, however, that my dead child had never died was to reach me from a quarter where I least expected it. I was editor of the magazine London Society at that time, and amongst my contributors was Dr. Keningale Cook, who had married Mabel Collins, the now well-known writer of spiritualistic novels. One day Dr. Cook brought me an invitation from his wife (whom I had never met) to spend Saturday to Monday with them in their cottage at Redhill, and I accepted it, knowing nothing of the proclivities of either of them, and they knowing as little of my private history as I did of theirs. And I must take this opportunity to observe that, at this period, I had never made my lost child the subject of conversation even with my most intimate friends. The memory of her life and death, and the troubles that caused it, was not a happy one, and of no interest to any but myself .So little, therefore, had it been discussed amongst us that until Florence reappeared to revive the topic, my elder children were ignorant that their sister had been marked in any way differently from themselves. It may, therefore, be supposed how unlikely it was that utter strangers and public media should have gained any inkling of the matter. I went down to Redhill, and as I was sitting with the Keningale Cooks after dinner, the subject of Spiritualism came on the tapis, and I was informed that the wife was a powerful trance medium, which much interested me, as I had not, at that period, had any experience of her particular class of mediumship. In the evening we "sat" together, and Mrs. Cook having become entranced, her husband took shorthand notes of her utterances. Several old friends of their family spoke through her, and I was listening to them in the listless manner in which we hear the conversation of strangers, when my attention was aroused by the medium suddenly leaving her seat, and falling on her knees before me, kissing my hands and face, and sobbing violently the while. I waited in expectation of hearing who this might be, when the manifestations as suddenly ceased, the medium returned to her seat, and the voice of one of her guides said that the spirit was unable to speak through excess of emotion, but would try again later in the evening. I had almost forgotten the circumstances in listening to other communications, when I was startled by hearing the word "Mother!" sighed rather than spoken. I was about to make some excited reply, when the medium raised her hand to enjoin silence, and the following communication was taken down by Mr. Cook as she pronounced the words. The sentences in parentheses are my replies to her.
"Mother! I am Florence. I must be very quiet. I want to feel I have a mother still. I am so lonely. Why should I be so? I cannot speak well. I want to be like one of you. I want to feel I have a mother and sisters. I am so far away from you all now.

("But I always think of you, my dear dead baby.")

"That's just it - your baby. But I'm not a baby now. I shall get nearer. They tell me I shall. I do not know if I can come when you are alone. It's all so dark. I know you are there, but so dimly. I've grown all by myself. I'm not really unhappy, but I want to get nearer you. I know you think of me, but you think of me as a baby. You don't know me as I am. You've seen me, because in my love I have forced myself upon you. I've not been amongst the flowers yet, but I shall be, very soon now; but I want my mother to take me there. All has been given me that can be given me, but I cannot receive it, except in so far-"
Here she seemed unable to express herself.
("Did the trouble I had before your birth affect your spirit, Florence?")

"Only as things cause each other. I was with you, Mother, all through that trouble. I should be nearer to you, than any child you have, if I could only get close to you."

("I can't bear to hear you speak so sadly, dear. I have always believed that you, at least, were happy in Heaven.")

"I am not in Heaven! But there will come a day, Mother - I can laugh when I say it - when we shall go to Heaven together and pick blue flowers - blue flowers. They are so good to me here, but if your eye cannot bear the daylight you cannot see the buttercups and daisies."

I did not learn till afterwards that in the spiritual language blue flowers are typical of happiness. The next question I asked her was if she thought she could write through me. "I don't seem able to write through you, but why, I know not."

("Do you know your sisters, Eva and Ethel?'')

"No! no! in a weary voice. "The link of sisterhood is only through the mother. That kind of sisterhood does not last, because there is a higher."

("Do you ever see your father?'')

"No! he is far, far away. I went once, not more. Mother dear, he'll love me when he comes here. They've told me so, and they always tell truth here! I am but a child, yet not so very little. I seem composed of two things - a child in ignorance and a woman in years. Why can't I speak at other places? I have wished and tried! I've come very near, but it seems so easy to speak now. This medium seems so different."

("I wish you could come to me when I am alone, Florence.")

"You shall know me! I will come, Mother dear. I shall always be able to come here. I do come to you., but not in the same way."

She spoke in such a plaintive, melancholy voice that Mrs. Cook, thinking she would depress my spirits, said, "Don't make your state out to be sadder than it really is." Her reply was very remarkable.

"I am, as I am! Friend! when you come here, if you find that sadness is, you will not be able to alter it by plunging into material pleasures. Our sadness makes the world we live in. It is not deeds that make us wrong. It is the state in which we were born. Mother! you say I died sinless. That is nothing. I was born in a state. Had I lived, I should have caused you more pain than you can know. I am better here. I was not fit to battle with the world, and they took me from it. Mother! you won't let this make you sad. You must not."

("What can I do to bring you nearer to me?")

"I don't know what will bring me nearer, but I'm helped already by just talking to you. There's a ladder of brightness every step. I believe I've gained just one step now. O! the Divine teachings are so mysterious. Mother! does it seem strange to you to hear your 'baby' say things as if she knew them? I'm going now. Good-bye!"
And so Florence went. The next voice that spoke was that of a guide of the medium, and I asked her for a personal description of my daughter as she then appeared. She replied, "Her face is downcast. We have tried to cheer her, but she is very sad. It is the state in which she was born. Every physical deformity is the mark of a condition. A weak body is not necessarily the mark of a weak spirit, but the prison of it, because the spirit might be too passionate otherwise. You cannot judge in what way the mind is deformed because the body is deformed. It does not follow that a canker in the body is a canker in the mind. But the mind may be too exuberant - may need a canker to restrain it."

I have copied this conversation, word for word, from the shorthand notes taken at the time of utterance; and when it is remembered that neither Mrs. Keningale Cook nor her husband knew that I had lost a child - that they had never been in my house nor associated with any of my friends - it will at least be acknowledged, even by the most sceptical, that it was a very remarkable coincidence that I should receive such a communication from the lips of a perfect stranger. Only once after this did Florence communicate with me through the same source. She found congenial media nearer home, and naturally availed herself of them. But the second occasion was almost more convincing than the first. I went one afternoon to consult my solicitor in the strictest confidence as to how I should act under some very painful circumstances, and he gave me his advice. The next morning as I sat at breakfast, Mrs. Cook, who was still living at Redhill, ran into my room with an apology for the unceremoniousness of her visit, on the score that she had received a message for me the night before which Florence had begged her to deliver without delay. The message was to this effect: "Tell my mother that I was with her this afternoon at the lawyer's, and she is not to follow the advice given her, as it will do harm instead of good." Mrs. Cook added, "I don't know to what Florence alludes, of course, but I thought it best, as I was coming to town, to let you know at once."

The force of this anecdote does not lie in the context. The mystery is contained in the fact of a secret interview having been overheard and commented upon. But the truth is, that having greater confidence in the counsel of my visible guide than in that of my invisible one, I abided by the former, and regretted it ever afterwards.

The first conversation I held with Florence had a great effect upon me. I knew before that my uncontrolled grief had been the cause of the untimely death of her body, but it had never struck me that her spirit would carry the effects of it into the unseen world. It was a warning to me (as it should be to all mothers) not to take the solemn responsibility of maternity upon themselves without being prepared to sacrifice their own feelings for the sake of their children. Florence assured me, however, that communion with myself in my improved condition of happiness would soon lift her spirit from its state of depression and consequently I seized every opportunity of seeing and speaking with her.

During the succeeding twelve months I attended numerous séances with various media, and my spirit child (as she called herself) never failed to manifest through the influence of any one of them, though, of course, in different ways. Through some she touched me only, and always with an infant's hand, that I might recognize it as hers, or laid her mouth against mine that I might feel the scar upon her lips; through others she spoke, or wrote, or showed her face, but I never attended a séance at which she omitted to notify her presence. Once at a dark circle, held with Mr. Charles Williams, after having had my dress and that of my next neighbour, Lady Archibald Campbell, pulled several times, as if to attract our attention, the darkness opened before us, and there stood my child, smiling at us like a happy dream, her fair hair waving about her temples, and her blue eyes fixed on me. She was clothed in white, but we saw no more than her head and bust, about which her hands held her drapery. Lady Archibald Campbell saw her as plainly as I did. On another occasion Mr. William Eglinton proposed to me to try and procure the spirit-writing on his arm. He directed me to go into another room and write the name of the friend I loved best in the spirit world upon a scrap of paper, which I was to twist up tightly and take back to him. I did so, writing the name of "John Powles." When I returned to Mr. Eglinton, he bared his arm, and holding the paper to the candle till it was reduced to tinder, rubbed his flesh with the ashes. I know what was expected to ensue. The name written on the paper was to reappear in red or white letters on the medium's arm. The sceptic would say it was a trick of thought-reading, and that, the medium knowing what I had written, had prepared the writing during my absence. But to his surprise and mine, when, at last he shook the ashes from his arm, we read, written in a bold, clear hand, the words - 'Florence is the dearest, " as though my spirit child had given me a gentle rebuke for writing any name but her own. It seems curious to me now to look back and remember how melancholy she used to be when she first came back to me, for as soon as she had established an unbroken communication between us, she developed into the merriest little spirit I have ever known, and though her childhood has now passed away, and she is more dignified and thoughtful and womanly, she always appears joyous and happy. She has manifested largely to me through the mediumship of Mr. Arthur Colman. I had known her during a dark séance with a very small private circle (the medium being securely held and fastened the while) run about the room, like the child she was, and speak to and kiss each sitter in turn, pulling off the sofa and chair covers and piling them up in the middle of the table, and changing the ornaments of everyone present-placing the gentlemen's neckties round the throats of the ladies, and hanging the ladies' earrings in the buttonholes of the gentlemen's coats - just as she might have done had she been still with us, a happy, petted child, on earth. I have known her come in the dark and sit on my lap and kiss my face and hands, and let me feel the defect in her mouth with my own. One bright evening on the 9th of July - my birthday - Arthur Colman walked in quite unexpectedly to pay me a visit, and as I had some friends with me, we agreed to have a séance. It was impossible to make the room dark, as the windows were only shaded by venetian blinds, but we lowered them, and sat in the twilight. The first thing we heard was the voice of Florence whispering, "A present for dear Mother's birthday," when something was put into my hand. Then she crossed to the side of a lady present and dropped something into her hand, saying, "And a present for dear Mother's friend!" I knew at once by the feel of it that what Florence had given me was a chaplet of beads, and knowing how often, under similar circumstances, articles are merely carried about a room, I concluded it was one which lay upon my drawing-room mantelpiece, and said as much. I was answered by the voice of "Aimee", the medium's nearest control.

"You are mistaken," she said, "'Florence has given you a chaplet you have never seen before. She was exceedingly anxious to give you a present on your birthday, so I gave her the beads which were buried with me. They came from my coffin. I held them in my hand. All I ask is that you will not show them to Arthur until I give you leave. He is not well at present, and the sight of them will upset him."

I was greatly astonished, but, of course, I followed her instructions, and when I had an opportunity to examine the beads, I found that they really were strangers to me, and had not been in the house before. The present my lady friend had received was a large, unset topaz. The chaplet was made of carved wood and steel. It was not till months had elapsed that I was given permission to show it to Arthur Colman. He immediately recognized it as the one he had himself placed in the hands of "Aimee" as she lay in her coffin, and when I saw how the sight affected him, I regretted I had told him anything about it. I offered to give the beads up to him, but he refused to receive them, and they remain in my possession to this day.

But the great climax that was to prove beyond all question the personal identity of the spirit who communicated with me, with the body I had brought into the world, was yet to come. Mr. William Harrison, the editor of the Spiritualist (who, after seventeen years' patient research into the science of Spiritualism, had never received a personal proof of the return of his own friends, or relations) wrote me word that he had received a message from his lately deceased friend, Mrs. Stewart, to the effect that if he would sit with the medium Florence Cook, and one or two harmonious companions, she would do her best to appear to him in her earthly likeness and afford him the test he had so long sought after. Mr. Harrison asked me, therefore, if I would join him and Miss Kidlingbury - the secretary to the British National Association of Spiritualists - in holding a séance with Miss Cook, to which I agreed, and we met in one of the rooms of the Association for that purpose. It was a very small room, about 8 feet by 16 feet, was uncarpeted and contained no furniture, so we carried in three cane-bottomed chairs for our accommodation. Across one comer of the room, about four feet from the floor, we nailed an old black shawl, and placed a cushion behind it for Miss Cook to lean her head against. Miss Florence Cook, who is a brunette, of a small, slight figure, with dark eyes and hair which she wore in a profusion of curls, was dressed in light grey merino, ornamented with crimson ribbons. She informed me previous to sitting, that she had become restless during her trances lately, and in the habit of walking out amongst the circle, and she asked me as a friend (for such we had by that time become) to scold her well should such a thing occur, and order her to go back Into the cabinet as if she were "a child or a dog and I promised her I would do so. After Florence Cook had sat down on the floor, behind the black shawl (which left her grey merino skirt exposed), and laid her head against the cushion, we lowered the gas a little, and took our seats on the three cane chairs. The medium appeared very uneasy at first, and we heard her remonstrating with the influences for using her so roughly. In a few minutes, however, there was a tremulous movement of the black shawl, and a large white hand was several times thrust into view and withdrawn again. I had never seen Mrs. Stewart (for whom we were expressly sitting) in this life, and could not, therefore, recognize the hand; but we all remarked how large and white it was. In another minute the shawl was lifted up, and a female figure crawled on its hands and knees from behind it, and then stood UP and regarded us. It was impossible, in the dim light and at the distance she stood from us, to identify the features, so Mr. Harrison asked if she were Mrs. Stewart. The figure shook its head. I had lost a sister a few months previously, and the thought flashed across me that it might be her. "Is it you, Emily?" I asked; but the head was still shaken to express a negative, and a similar question on the part of Miss Kidlingbury, with respect to a friend of her own, met with the same response. "Who can it be?" I remarked curiously to Mr. Harrison.

"Mother! don't you know me?" sounded in Florence's whispering voice. I started up to approach her exclaiming, "O! my darling child! I never thought I should meet you here!" But she said, "Go back to your chair, and I will come to you?" I reseated myself, and Florence crossed the room come and sat down on my lap. She was more unclothed on that occasion than any materialized spirit I have ever seen. She wore nothing on her head, only her hair, of which she appears to have an immense quantity, fell down her back and covered her shoulders. Her arms were bare and her feet part of her legs, and the dress she wore had no shape, but seemed like so many yards of soft thick muslin, wound round her body from the bosom to below the knees. She was a heavy weight - perhaps ten stone - and had well covered limbs. In fact, she was then, and has appeared for several years past, to be, in point of size and shape, so like her oldest sister Eva, that I always observe the resemblance between them. This séance took place at a period when Florence must have been about seventeen years old.

"Florence, my darling," I said, "is this really you'' "Turn the gas," she answered, "and look at my mouth." Mr. Harrison did as she desired, and we all saw distinctly that peculiar defect on the lip with which she was born - a defect, be remembered, which some of the most experienced members the profession had affirmed to be "so rare as never to have fallen under their notice before." She also opened her mouth that I might see she had no gullet. I promised at the commencement of my book to confine myself to facts, and leave the deductions to be drawn from them to my readers, so I will not interrupt my narrative to make any remarks upon this controvertible proof of identity. I know it struck me dumb, and melted me into tears. At this juncture Miss Cook, who had been moaning and moving about a good deal behind black shawl, suddenly exclaimed, "I can't stand this any longer," and walked out into the room. There she stood in her dress and crimson ribbons whilst Florence sat on my lap in white drapery. But only for a moment, for directly the medium, was fully in view, the spirit sprung up and darted behind the curtain. Recalling Miss Cook's injunctions to me, I scolded her heartily for leaving her seat, until she crept back, whimpering, to her former position. The shawl had scarcely closed behind her before Florence reappeared and clung to me saying, "Don't let her do that again. She frightens me so." She was actually trembling all over. "Why, Florence,"' I replied, "do you mean to tell me you are frightened of your medium? In this world it is we poor mortals who are frightened of the spirits." "I am afraid she will send me away, Mother," she whispered. However, Miss Cook did not disturb us again, and Florence stayed with us for some time longer. She clasped her arms round my neck, and laid her head upon my bosom, and kissed me dozens of times. She took my hand and spread it out, and said she felt sure I should recognize her hand when she thrust it outside the curtain, because it was so much like my own. I was suffering much trouble at that time, and Florence told me the reason God had permitted her to show herself to me in her earthly deformity was so that I might be sure that she was herself, and that Spiritualism was a truth to comfort me. "Sometimes you doubt, Mother," she said, "and think your eyes and ears have misled you; but after this you must never doubt again. Don't fancy I am like this in the spirit land. The blemish left me long ago. But I put it on tonight to make you certain. Don't fret, dear Mother. Remember I am always near you. No one can take me away. Your earthly children may grow up and go out into the world and leave you, but you will always have your spirit child close to you." I did not, and cannot, calculate for how long Florence remained visible on that occasion. Mr. Harrison told me afterwards that she had remained for nearly twenty minutes. But her undoubted presence was such a stupendous fact to me, that I could only think that she was there-that I actually held in my arms the tiny infant I had laid with my own hands in her coffin - that she was no more dead than I was myself, but had grown to be a woman. So I sat, with my arms tight round her, and my heart beating against hers, until the power decreased, and Florence was compelled to give me a last kiss and leave me stupefied and bewildered by what had so unexpectedly occurred. Two other spirits materialized and appeared after she had left us, but as neither of them was Mrs. Stewart, the séance, as far as Mr. Harrison was concerned, was a failure. I have seen and heard Florence on numerous occasions since the one I have narrated, but not with the mark upon her mouth, which she assures me will never trouble either of us again. I could fill pages with accounts of her pretty, caressing ways and her affectionate and sometimes solemn messages; but I have told as much of her story as will interest the general reader. It has been wonderful to me to mark how her ways and mode of communication have changed with the passing years. It was a simple child who did not know how to express itself that appeared to me in 1873. It is a woman full of counsel and tender warning that comes to me in 1890. But yet she is only nineteen. When she reached that age, Florence told me she should never grow any older in years or appearance, and that she had reached the climax of womanly perfection in the spirit world. Only tonight--the night before Christmas Day - as I write her story, she comes to me and says, "Mother! you must not give way to sad thoughts. The Past is past. Let it be buried in the blessings that remain to you."

And amongst the greatest of those blessings I reckon my belief in the existence of my spirit-child.
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WILLIAM CROOKES and KATIE KING
Photographs





Photograph 1


This photograph taken by the eminent physicist and chemist Sir William Crookes, using magnesium light, is perhaps the most crucial.

Critics often attempt to explain away materialisations by claiming the medium and the materialised form are the same person, i.e. the medium impersonates different individuals by using an array of costumes, accents, etc. This photograph suggests otherwise. Both the medium and the materialised figure can be seen at the same time - demonstrating they were two separate entities. 
Crookes said in his book Researches into the Phenomena of Modern Spiritualism "... it was a common thing for the seven or eight of us in the laboratory to see Miss Cook and Katie at the same time, under the full blaze of the electric light".
Having entered into a trance state, the medium Florence Cook (left) has slumped from the couch over the arm of the chair. The towering ectoplasm shape behind her is just beginning to compress into a fully materialised form. She called herself "Katie King".


Photograph 2


This photograph shows the fully materialised figure of Katie King.

"Photography", said William Crookes in Researches into the Phenomena of Modern Spiritualism, "is as inadequate to depict the perfect beauty of Katie's face as words are powerless to describe her charms of manner. Photography may, indeed, give a map of her countenance; but how can it reproduce the brilliant purity of her complexion, or the ever-varying expression of her most mobile features."


Photograph 3


This photograph was taken by the President of the Royal Society, Sir William Crookes, and shows the surgeon Dr. James M. Gully recording the pulse of Katie King.

The experiments were held under strict test conditions, imposed by Crookes, who recorded physical differences in complexion, hair colouring, height, heart-beat, blisters, skin type, face and finger sizes, plus manners and ways of expression between the materialised figure Katie King and the medium Florence Cook.
All physical comparisons were different, proving they were two separate entities.


Dr. J. M. Gully's comments on recording Katie King's pulse
From "The Proof Palpable of Immortality" by Epes Sargent.
Dr. J. M. Gully, formerly of Great Malvern, England, a thoroughly experienced physician and a careful investigator, under date of July 20th, 1874, writes me as follows:
"To the special question which you put regarding my experiences of the materialization of the spirit-form, with Miss Cook's mediumship, I must reply that, after two years' examination of the fact and numerous séances, I have not the smallest doubt, and have the strongest conviction, that such materialization takes place, and that not the slightest attempt at trick or deception is fairly attributable to any one who assisted at Miss Cook's séances.
"That the power grows with use was curiously illustrated by the fact that, for some time, only a face was producible, with, occasionally, arms and hands; with no hair, and sometimes with no back to the skull at all - merely a mask, with movement, however, of eyes and mouth. Gradually the whole form appeared - after, perhaps, some five months of séances once or twice a week. This again became more and more rapidly formed, and changed, in hair, dress, and color of face, as we desired.
"The voice came long before the whole form of the body, but was always husky, and as if there was a whispering catarrh; save when she joined us in singing, when she gave out a most lovely contralto.
"The feel of the skin was quite natural, soft and warm; her movements were natural and graceful, except when she stooped to pick up anything from the floor, when it seemed as if her legs as well as her trunk bent backwards.
"When that photograph---The well-known published photograph, in which Katie is represented standing with Dr. Gully sitting at her side and holding her hand [shown above].--- was taken, I held her hand for at least two minutes, three several times, for we sat three times for it on one and the same evening; but I was constrained to close my eyes by reason of the intense magnesium light which shone directly upon me; moreover she desired that none of us would gaze at her whilst the lens was directed upon her. "I believe that much information might have been obtained from her concerning the outre-tombe, but the circle seemed always bent on talking chaff to her, complimenting her, and indulging in ordinary inconsequential conversation; for only on one or two occasions was I (who hate all the nonsense that was said to and by her) able to put a few questions on the subjects about which every thoughtful Spiritualist is naturally anxious.
"It may be questioned whether these spirit beings can convey anything like an accurate idea of their state and powers; but I believe that, just as their power of physical manifestation augments with use, so would their power of mental communication increase were an intelligent curiosity always presented for their sympathetic reply. In fact, I believe that if less idle and more serious curiosity was felt by the circles, spirits of a higher and more powerful character would sympathetically come and teach by vocal words, written words, inspired words.
"So soon as a man has convinced himself of the reality of the spirit-presence, and the absence of all deception, he should, I think, use all his will power to place his own spirit in a state of reception for spirit knowledge, and feel assured he will get it. Physical manifestations are the alphabet of the subject, and if Spiritualism went no further it would do but little for humanity.
"But I quite believe in your suggestion, that, carried out to its consequences in thought and sympathy, it is destined to abolish a thick cloud of darkness which at present renders all religions more or less superstitious, and all philosophy a mere circle; and to substitute a light which will enable the mind in a body to hold communion with minds whose freedom enables them to see the workings of Great Cause and Great Effect, and so to bring forth a philosophic religion; whilst philosophy itself will be able to look ever onwards instead of going round and round, as it has done from Plato to Mill, tedious to study, and barren of result."


Photograph 4


William Crookes stands arm-in-arm with the fully solid and materialised Katie King. 

"I pass on to a séance held last night at Hackney (London, March 29th 1874). Katie never appeared to greater perfection, and for nearly two hours she walked about the room, conversing familiarly with those present. On several occasions she took my arm when walking, and the impression conveyed to my mind that it was a living woman by my side, instead of a visitor from the other world... Mr. Volckman will be pleased to know that I can corroborate his statement that the "ghost" (not "struggling" however) was as material a being as Miss Cook herself" said Crookes in his book Researches into the Phenomena of Modern Spiritualism.


Photograph 5


The photograph below shows Katie King in the process of materialisation.

Some investigators claim that lesser-complete materialised forms offer stronger evidence of survival as they are near-impossible to duplicate by normal or fraudulent means. Over a period of three years Katie King appeared to William Crookes and his fellow investigators in many states of solidity.


Photograph 6


This photograph was taken by Sir William Crookes using electric light. Seated to the right is the surgeon Dr. James M. Gully. 

"One evening I timed Katie's pulse. It beat steadily at 75, whilst Miss Florence Cook's pulse a little time after was going at its usual rate of 90. On applying my ear to Katie's chest I heard a heart beating rhythmically inside, and pulsating even more steadily than did Miss Cook's heart when she allowed me to try a similar experiment after the séance. Tested in the same way, Katie's lungs were found to be sounder than her medium's, for at the time I tried my experiment Miss Cook was under medical treatment for a severe cough."
Taken from Crookes' article The Last of Katie King.


Photograph 7


"Before concluding this article I wish to give some of the points of difference, which I have observed between Miss Florence Cook and Katie King. Katie's height varies; in my house I have seen her six inches taller than Miss Cook. Last night, with bare feet, and not "tiptoeing," she was four-and-a-half inches taller than Miss Cook. Katie's neck was bare last night; the skin was perfectly smooth both to touch and sight, whilst on Miss Cook's neck is a large blister, which under similar circumstances is distinctly visible and rough to the touch. Katie's ears are unpierced, whilst Miss Cook habitually wears earrings. Katie's complexion is very fair, while that of Miss Cook is very dark, Katie's fingers are much longer than Miss Cook's, and her face is also larger. In manners and ways of expression there are also many decided differences."

Taken from William Crookes' article Spirit Forms.


Photograph 8


"Having seen so much of Katie lately, when she has been illuminated by the electric light, I am enabled to add to the points of difference between her and her medium which I mentioned in a former article. I have the most absolute certainty that Miss Cook and Katie are two separate individuals so far as their bodies are concerned. Several little marks on Miss Cook's face are absent on Katie's. Miss Cook's hair is so dark a brown as almost to appear black; a lock of Katie's, which is now before me, and which she allowed me to cut from her luxuriant tresses, having first traced it up to the scalp and satisfied myself that it actually grew there, is a rich golden auburn."

Taken from William Crookes' article The Last of Katie King.


Photograph 9


"One of the most interesting of the pictures is one in which I am standing by the side of Katie; she has her bare foot upon a particular part of the floor. Afterwards I dressed Miss Cook like Katie, placed her and myself in exactly the same position, and we were photographed by the same cameras, placed exactly as in the other experiment, and illuminated by the same light. When these two pictures are placed over each other, the two photographs of myself coincide exactly as regards stature, etc., but Katie is half a head taller than Miss Cook, and looks a big woman in comparison with her. In the breadth of her face, in many of the pictures, she differs essentially in size from her medium, and the photographs show several other points of difference."

Taken from William Crookes' article The Last of Katie King.


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