Francis Lieber.

Library of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) online

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to the next question she put seemed to refute this idea. " How many children have I?"
she asked aloud. Seven strokes, " Ah!" she thought, "it can blunder sometimes." And
then, aloud, "Try again." Still seven strokes as before. Of a sudden a thought crossed
her mind: "Are they all alive?" she asked. Silence for answer. "How many are
living?" Six strokes. "How many dead?" A single stroke; she had lost a child.
Then she asked, "Are you a man?" No answer. "Are you a spirit?" It rapped.
" May my neighbors hear if I call them?" It rapped again. Thereupon she asked her
husband to call a neighbor, a Mrs. Redfield, who came in laughing. But her mirth was
soon changed. The answers to her inquiries were as prompt and pertinent as they had
been to those of Mrs. Fox. She was struck with awe; and when, in reply to a question
about the number of her children, by rapping four, instead of three, as she expected, it
reminded her of a little daughter, Mary, whom she had recently lost, the mother burst
into tears.

Of course a knowledge of these things could not be kept secret. The news soon
spread, and the utmost excitement prevailed in the little village and beyond it. Neigh-
bors flocked in, and the house was besieged, and the time of the family wholly taken up
with curious and eager visitors. Formal depositions appeared in more than one publica-
tion. The earliest of these, published April, 1848 a pamphlet of 40 pages contains
21 certificates, chiefly given by the immediate neighbors. Most of the witnesses offer to
confirm their statements, if necessary, under oath, and express their conviction that the
family had no agency in producing these sounds.

It was found that these were more marked in the presence of Kate Fox, and in the
hope of getting rid of these annoyances. Kate was sent on a visit to Mrs. Fish, a married
ister, at Rochester. The only result being that, while the rappings did not cease at
Hydesville, a new and more extended scene of operations was given them at Rochester,
whither they followed Kate, and were found also to accompany her sister, and a girl
who resided with them.

On one occasion a visitor suggested that the alphabet should be called over, to see if
the sounds would respond to the required letters, and so spell out a communication. A
shower of raps followed, as if to say: " Yes, that is what we want!" The first message
so given, was: " We are all your dear friends and relatives." Then the name of "Jacob
Smith," Mrs. Fish's grandfather, was given. Previous to the spiritual telegraphy thus
commenced, the only mode of communication had been by asking questions, one rap
being understood as an answer in the negative, three in the affirmative, and two, doubt-
ful, or that the answer could not then be given. It was now asked that a signal should



be given when the alphabet was required; this was responded to by five strokes, which
was henceforth understood as a call for the alphabet; and so a code of signals was

Similar demonstrations occurred about this time, independently, in the homes of
some of the most respectable inhabitants of Rochester. At length it was communicated
by the rapping that the facts should be given to the world, with a view to open up a
more extended intercourse; and instructions were given as to where, how, and by whom
this was to be done. There was much difficulty in getting the parties named to tak
! 1he responsibility, and incur the discredit and ridicule of this step: but their scruples \
were at length overcome; and on Nov. 14, 1848, a public lecture, giving a simple narra-
tive of the facts, was delivered in the Corinthian hall, Rochester, to an audience of
about 400 people. The rappings, as had been promised, were distinctly heard in all
parts of the hall; and a committee was appointed by the audience to investigate the sub-
ject, and report at a subsequent meeting The committee all agree that the sounds
were heard; but they entirely failed to discover any means by which they were pro-

This result was very different to what had been confidently anticipated, and the dis-
satisfied audience, amazed at the failure, appointed a second committee, which it was
expected would make such an investigation as could not fail to find out the trick; and
when this committee, after the strictest investigation, only confirmed the judgment of
its predecessor, the excitement became intense; and a third' committee was appointed,
consisting of those who had shown the most determined hostility to the reports of the
previous committees, and who had expressed the utmost confidence in their ability to
detect the imposition. It certainly was no fault of theirs that they did not. T*hey
resorted to every means their ingenuity could devise; but no fraud could be detected,
no explanation given. The "mediums" were separated, and their friends were rigor-
ously excluded from the sittings of the committee. They were unexpectedly removed,
first to one house, then to another. A committee of ladies divested them of their cloth-
ing; feather pillows were placed under their feet; the stethoscope was applied to. see
that there was no movement of the lungs by which the sounds could be made. Under
every condition imposed the obstinate raps came on doors, floors, walls, ceiling; the
place seemed alive with them. When this final committee, baffled and mortified, made
known their failure, the meeting broke up in the greatest excitement and confusion. ^
But the- object was gained: the facts were reported and commented on in all the journals '
throughout the country.

Circles for investigation were now everywhere formed, and not only were the rap- |
ings obtained, but new phases of these strange phenomena were constantly developed. *
In Forty Years of American Life, by Thomas Low Nichols, M.D., we read: " Dials were
made with movable hands, which pointed out letters and answered questions without
apparent human aid. The hands of mediums, acting convulsively, and, as they averred,
without their volition, wrote things apparently beyond their knowledge, in documents
purporting to be signed by departed spirits. Their writings were sometimes made
upside down, or reversed so as only to be read through the paper or in a mirror. Some
mediums wrote with both hands at a time, different messages, wiihmit, as they said,
being conscious of either. There were speaking mediums, who declared themselves to
be the merely passive instruments of the spirits. Some represented, most faithfully, it
was said, the actions, voices, and appearance of persons long dead; others, blindfolded,
drew portraits, said to be likenesses of deceased persons they had never seen the ordi-
nary work of hours being done in a few minutes. Sometimes the names of deceased
persons and short messages appeared in raised red lines upon the skin of the medium.
Ponderous bodies, as heavy dining-tables and piano-fortes, were raised from the floor,
falling again with a crash and jar. Tables on which several persons were sealed were
in like manner raised into the air by some invisible force. Mediums are said to have
been raised into the air and floated about above the heads of the spectators. Writings
and pictures were produced without visible hands. - Persons were touched by invisible,
and sometimes by visible hands. Various musical instruments were played upon with-
out visible agency. Strange feats of legerdemain, as the untying of complicated rope-
kuottings in an incredible short time, astonished many. Voices were heard, which
purported to be. those of spirits. In a word, over a vast extent of country, from e. to w,,
these phenomena existed, or were said to exist, in hundreds of places, and were witnessed
by many thousands of people numbers of whom were of the highest credibility, and
the mass of those people whose testimony no one would think of impeaching in a trial
of life and death."

Many theories were invented to explain these phenomena; they are now for the most
pr.vt obsolete or forgotten. Each theory generally began by exploding its predecessors,
and was in turn exploded by its successors. No sooner was a theory invented to explain
one class of facts than another sprang up for which it made no provision, and to which
it was manifestly inadequate. Not only did the flame spread, but sometimes the extin-
guishers caught fire; and those who at first were its opponents, ended as its advocates.
The most obdurate materialists became convinced of a future life for man by the experi-
mental evidence spiritualism supplied. For instance, prof. Hare instituted a series of
experiments intended to prove that the phenomena were wholly due to natural causes;



and the public, and men of science in particular, were surprised when, in place of this
explanation, there appeared a large work with his name as its author, entitled Spiritual-
ism Scientifically Demonstrated; and with diagrams of ingenious apparatus invented by
him to test the genuineness of the phenomena. The lion. J. W. Edmonds, judge in the
supreme court of appeals for the state of New York, brought to bear upon the subject a
mind trained by long judicial experience, and the careful sifting of evidence. He
investigated with many different mediums, and took notes as carefully as though in
court. To his great astonishment he found he was himself a medium, and under the
title Spiritualism he published two large volumes, narrating his investigations, visions,
and spiritual communications. His daughter, Laura, also became a medium, and undef
some foreign influence would sometimes answer freely in languages with which in her
normal state she was wholly unacquainted.

Reports of these marvels soon crossed the Atlantic; but in England, for a long time,
they excited little serious attention, and were generally received, not only with incredu*
lity, but with ridicule and contempt. The visit to London of Mrs. Haydon, an. American
medium, in 1854, first excited any considerable degree of public interest in spiritualism.
Many visited her, most of whom were puzzled, some ridiculed, a few were convinced.
Among the latter were Robert Owen, the founder of English socialism, and Dr. Ash:
burner, the translator of Reichenbach, and the colleague of Dr. Elliotson in the estab-
lishment of the Zoixt and of the Mesmeric infirmary. In 1855 a more remarkable medium
came to England, Mr. Daniel Dunglas Home. The manifestations which occurred in
his presence were soon the subject of newspaper controversy. From that time to this
they have been seen and tested repeatedly by scientific and other witnesses of the highest
credit and social position; and they made him a frequent and welcome guest at the
Tuileries and at the courts of Berlin and St. Petersburg. A full account of his strange
experiences is given in his autobiography, entitled Incidents in My Life. They include
nearly the whole range of " manifestations" referred to in the important report of which
we are about to speak.

In Jan., 1869, the London dialectical society appointed a committee "to investigate
the phenomena alleged to be spiritual manifestations, and to report thereon." The com-
mittee invited evidence from all sides, and especially solicited the co-operation of scien-
tific men, and resolved itself into sub-committees for experimental investigation and
test. In July, 1871, the committee presented its report, with minutes of evidence,
reports of seances, and other documents, making a volume of 412 large octavo pages.
The committee stato that "a large majority of the members of your committee have
become actual witnesses to several phases of the phenomena, withc-'it I'.he aid or presence
of any professional medium, although the greater part of them commenced their inves-
tigations in an avowedly skeptical spirit." A synopsis of the evidence is also given as
follows: "Thirteen witnesses state that they have seen heavy bodies in some instances
men rise slowly in the air, and remain there for some time without visible or tangible
support. Fourteen witnesses testify to having seen hands or figures, not appertaining
to any human being, but lifelike in appearance and mobility, which they have some-
times touched or even grasped, and which they are therefore convinced were not the
result of imposture or illusion. Five witnesses state that they have been touched by
some invisible agency on various parts of the body, and often where requested, when
the hands of all present were visible. Thirteen witnesses declare that they have heard
musical pieces well played upon instruments not manipulated by any ascertainablo
agency. Five witnesses state that they have seen red-hot coals applied to the hands or
heads of several persons without producing pain or scorching; and three witnesses state
that they have had the same test applied to themselves with the like immunity. Eight wit-
nesses state that they have received detailed information through rapping*, writings, or
in other ways, the accuracy of which was unknown at the time to themselves or to any
persons present, and which, on subsequent inquiry, was found to be correct. One wit-
ness declares that he has received a precise and detailed statement, which, nevertheless,
proved to be entirely erroneous. Three witnesses state that they have been present
when drawings, both in pencil and colors, were produced in so short a time, and under
such conditions, as to render human agency impossible. Six witnesses declare that they
have received information of future events, and that in some cases the hour and minute
have been accurately foretold days and even weeks before. In addition to the above,
evidence has been given of trance-speaking, of healing, of automatic writing, of the
introduction of flowers and fruits into closed rooms, of voices in the air, of visions in
rystals and glasses, and of the elongation of the human body."

One of the latest scientific investigators of Spiritualism is Mr. William Crookes, F.R.S.,
discoverer of the metal thallium, editor of the Chemical News and of the (J* nrtt'rly
Journal of Science. In the latter journal for Jan., 1874, is an article by him, entitled,
"Notes of an Inquiry into the Phenomena called Spiritual, 1870-73." He attests phe-
nomena similar to those affirmed by the dialectical society's committee and its witnesses,
which came under his notice in his own house, in the light, and with only private
friends present except the medium, at times appointed by himself, and under circum-
stances which, he says, absolutely precluded the employment of the very simplest
instrumental aids.

One of the most receut phases of Spiritualism in this country is ' ' spirit photographs."


On clean and previously unused plates, marked by the sitter, and even when the
sitter has used his own plates and camera, there has appeared with the sitter a second
figure, which in many instances have been recognized as portraits of deceased relatives
and friends. In the Spiritual Magazine for Dec., 1872, is a list of the names and
addresses of 40 sitters who have so recognized these figures. They have been obtained
by many photographers, both professional and amateur, in England, the United States,
and on the continent of Europe.

The Spiritual Magazine (the oldest journal of Spiritualism in England, and which
contains a record of the movement from its establishment in Jan., 1860), has the follow-
ing as its motto: " Spiritualism, is based on the cardinal fact of spirit communion and
influx; it is the effort to discover all truth relating to man's spiritual nature, capacities,
relations, duties, welfare, and destiny; and its application to a regenerate life. It recog-
nizes a continuous divine inspiration in man; it aims through a careful, reverent study
of facts, at a knowledge of the laws and principles which govern the occult forces of the
universe; of the relations of spirit to matter, and of man to God and the spiritual world.
It is thus catholic and progressive, leading to true religion as at one with the highest

At a conference in Liverpool in Nov., 1873, at which delegates from about 40 socie-
ties attended, steps were taken which have led to the establishment of the " British
national association of spiritualists" "to unite spiritualists of every variety of opinion
for their mutual aid and benefit; to promote the study of pneumatology and psychology;
to aid students and inquirers in their researches, by placing at their disposal the means
of systematic investigation into the now recognized facts and phenomena, called spirit-
ual or psychic; to make known the positive results arrived at by careful scientific
research; and to direct attention to the beneficial influence which those results are cal-
culated to exercise upon social relationships and individual conduct."

In the United States the principal journals of Spiritualism are the Banner of Light,
Boston, established 1857; and the Rdigio-Philosophical Journal, published at Chicago.
The Quarterly Journal of Spiritual Science, edited by professer Britton, takes rank with
the best quarterlies of the day. In England there are three monthly magazines and
three weekly journals devoted to Spiritualism; and there are about 50 journals of
Spiritualism exclusive of those in England and America. The literature of the move-
ment is very voluminous. The following in addition to those already indicated are the
principal works on Spiritualism published in England and the 'United States, to which
we must refer our readers for further information : From Matter to Spirit, by Mrs. De
Morgan, with preface by professor De Morgan; TJie Two Worlds, by Thomas Brevior;
Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World, and The Debatable Land, by Robert Dale
Owen; History of the Supernatural, by William Howitt; A Defense of Spiritualism, by
Alfred Russell Wallace; Lights and SJiadows of Spiritualism, by D. D. Home (1877);
Mesmei'ism, Spiritualism, etc., Historically and Scientifically Considered, by W. B. Carpen-
ter, P.K.S. (1877).

SPIR'ULA, a genus of polythamous, decapodous, dibranchiate cephalopoda, com-
prising three species, and constituting prof. Owen's family, spindidce, in which the
internal skeleton is in the form of a nacreous, discoidal shell, the whorls of which are
not in contact with one another, and which are divided into a series of chambers by
partitions pierced by a ventral tube or siphuncle. The animal has minute lateral fins,
and there are six rows of small suckers on the arms (see CEPHALOPODA). The three
species constituting the family, or the genus, which in this case is the same, are, as
designated by prof. Owen, spirula, peronii, 8. australis, and S. reticulate, and are formed
from the nautilius spirula of Linnaeus. The shell of one or other of these species is not
infrequently found on the coasts of Ireland, Cornwall, and Devon. It is commonly
known as the post-horn, and is similar in structure to that of the nautilus, but is lodged
in the posterior part of the animal, and is therefore internal, whereas the shell of the
nautilus is external. It corresponds to the phragmacone of the belemnite (q.V.). The
Shells are found in great numbers in certain localities, but the animal has seldom been
taken whole. In its internal anatomy it is a true dibranchiate, having two branchiae
and an ink-bag. It has the peculiar feature that the hinder end of the body acts as a
feuctorial disk for fastening itself to foreign bodies. The beaks are not calcified, and
the retractor muscles of the funnel spring from the inner surface of the last chamber
of the shell, as in the nautilus. This chamber also lodges the hinder termination of the
liver (Owen). For a long time only imperfect specimens, or portions of the animal,
were obtained, and there was much discussion among naturalists as to its proper place,
until one was obtained in a perfect state by Mr. Percy Earle on the coast of New Zea-
land, where the shells are found in great abundance.

SPITALFIELDS, a district of London, adjoining. Bethnal Green, derives its name
from the hospital of St. Mary, founded there, in 1197, by Walter Brune and his wif
Rosia. and is inhabited chiefly by silk-weavers and other poor people. The manufacture
of silk was established in Spitalfields by emigrants from France, after the revocation of
the edict of Nantes.

SPITHEAD. n celebrated roadstead on the s. coast of England, and a favorite rendez-
vous of tiie British navy, is the eastern division the Solent (q.v.) being the western

'TOO SpJrnla.


division of that strait which separates the isle of Wight from the mainland. It is pro-
tected from all winds, except those from the s.e., and its noted security warranted the
name, which has been applied to it by sailors, of the " king's bedchamber." It receives
its name from the " Spit," a sand-bank stretching s. from the English shore for 3m.,
and it is 14 m. long by about 4 in. in average breadth. Here, in 1797, the sailors of
the channel fleet mutinied for more liberal pay and allowances, which were granted to

SPITHEAD FORTS. The troubled state of European politics which gave rise in 1859
to the volunteer movement, led also the recommendation of an extensive plan of defenses
for the arsenals and coast. A board of commissioners drew up a scheme for these
defenses, to cost about 5,000.000, of which a sum of 2,000,000 was for Portsmouth,
Spithead, aud the neighboring coast. At present the entrance to the important arsenal
and dockyard at Portsmouth is defended by fort Monckton on the Gosport side, Southsea
Castle on the opposite side, Cumberland fort at the entrance to Langston harbor, Lumps
and Eastney forts between the two last named, and some defensive lines between the
island of Portsea and the mainland. 580,000 was voted in 1860 as a beginning, to
increase the number and strength of these forts, to build detached forts on shoals in the
sea between the mainland and the isle of Wight, and to raise fortilied lines on Ports-
down Hill (the principal Avork being fort Southwick), wholly northward of Portsmouth
harbor. The works were commenced, but the often-conflicting lessons furnished by the
American war led to much delay and endless variations of plan.

The national defense commissioners had proposed five advanced forts on the shoals
known as Horse Sand, Nomau or No Man's Land shoal, Sturbridge shoal, Spit point,
and a point intervening between Horse Sand and Portsea island. But after much dis-
cussion and numerous alterations of plan, it was only in 1864 that it W 7 as determined to
proceed with the foundations at least of two the Horse and the Noman forts. The
foundation of each fort consists of rings of stone-work, laid on the levelled bed of the
shoal, tapering a little upward from a width of 54 ft. to one of 48 ft,, the outer diam-
eter of the ring gradually lessening from 231 to 213 feet. From 20 to 15 ft. of submarine
masonry is required. Outside the rings of stone are layers of rubble to protect the
etoue-work from the action of tidal rush. Two years later similar forts were begun on
Spit bank and St. Helens shoal. In 1865 a mortar-battery had been erected at Puckpool
in the isle of Wight, commanding at long range the approach to Spithead. In 1868,
after it had been found impossible to secure a foundation for a fifth fort on the Stur
bridge shoal, Puckpocl battery was strengthened and armed with 30 mortars and 4 25- 1
ton guns.

All this time the government had not determined which of three modes to adopt
for constructing the "forts whether to form them entirely of iron, or of granite faced
with iron, or simply of granite, leaving the facing for after-consideration. The plan
most in favor with tb.2 government in 1866 was to erect on each of the foundations at
Spithead a revolving iron fort or tower of enormous magnitude.

Circumstances in 1867 induced the government again to pause. Experiments on the
Rodman 15-in. and 20-in. guns led some engineers to believe that no iron easing for forts
could resist shot of 500 Ibs. to 1100 Ibs. from such ordnance; while the rolling of an
armor-plate 15 in. thick (see ARMOR-PLATE) revived the hopes of those who believe that
armor will eventually vanquish guns. Finally, the forts are nearly finished, of a granite
core, surrounded by a great thickness of iron plates. Above each fort are revolving
turrets carrying 35-ton guns, which throw shells of 700 Ibs. The inner line of defense
has been strengthened by new works at Gilkicker, Southsea Castle, etc., and by the
increase in the size of the guns, and the addition of iron shields in the embrasures.

SPITZ DOG, a variety of the Pomeranian dog. It is small, with a bushy curved

Online LibraryFrancis LieberLibrary of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) → online text (page 168 of 203)